WBUR

With New Ad, Sen. Brown Goes On The Offensive

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is applauded by U.S. Sen. John Kerry at a campaign event in Somerville, Monday. (AP)

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is applauded by U.S. Sen. John Kerry at a campaign event in Somerville, Monday. (AP)

BOSTON — The competitive U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts is getting feistier. Incumbent Republican Scott Brown has begun airing his first television attack ad against his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren.

Brown’s newly combative tone signals a new stage in the campaign. But it’s a move that also carries some risk.

The Heritage Attack

The senator’s TV ad questions Warren’s character for identifying herself as Native American during her academic career. It does so by stitching together news reports.

“She’s facing tough questions about whether she claimed to be a minority for professional gain,” an unidentified female reporter says in the ad.

“Warren did give an answer,” a male reporter follows. “The problem is, it keeps changing.”

Brown lets reporters do the talking, but the TV spot reflects the more antagonistic tone that he’s debuting in his re-election campaign. Brown confronted Warren on the issue from the outset of their first televised debate last week.

“Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color,” Brown said as Warren looked on just a few steps away. “And as you can see, she’s not.”

Warren has said she was told as a child that her mother was part Cherokee and part Delaware Indian and that she never questioned that story.

The Harvard Law School professor listed herself in law school directories as having Native American heritage, but said she gained no professional advantage.

Charles Fried, a member of the committee that reviewed Warren for the law school job, has said the subject of her ancestry was never mentioned.

New Tone’s ‘Peril For Brown’

Following the debate, Brown’s newly aggresive style continued over the weekend. At campaign events, Brown strongly criticized Warren for representing an insurance company in a negotiation over a compensation fund for asbestos victims.

“The peril for Scott Brown is he could start coming across as too aggressive, too mean,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a former Democratic media strategist who now teaches advertising at Boston University. “The voters liked him as sort of their friendly neighbor. And now, if he is sort of a politician wielding a knife, that is not going to be good for his image.”

Still, Brown is not the first candidate in this race to air an attack ad. Warren took off the gloves first. She spoke to Brown’s more aggressive tone at a campaign event Monday in Dorchester.

“They’re holding nothing back,” Warren told an audience of hundreds of applauding union workers. “They’ll punch at any direction they can. But here’s what I gotta tell you guys: It’s going to be a fight; I am not afraid.”

But the campaign’s sharpening tone will be tempered by a unique agreement between the two candidates. Brown and Warren have pledged to keep third-party advertising out of this race.

That means each candidate has to put his or her own name on each TV ad. That move may force Brown to risk his well-liked personality by going on the offensive against Warren. But with a U.S. Senate seat at stake, that’s a risk that most observers say he has to take.

With additional reporting by WBUR’s Fred Thys and The Associated Press

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  • Anita Paul

    He is using the Affirmative Action plan. 

  • henrietta11

    It has been made clear that those who hired Warren did not know re this.
    We need Warren in the Senate.
    We don’t need any more fraying of our meager safety net.
    Brown even voted against unemployment extensions.
    Without a majority-Dem Senate, we’re in trouble.

    • Jeremyjones

      Hey Einstein, the Senate is democrat majority.

      • henrietta11

        That is we need to KEEP a Dem Senate mojority.

      • MindysMom

        Never mind the insults and get the facts.

        Yes there is a majority in numbers, but because of the Senate rules the Republicans fillabuster most legislation. We have had nothing but Tryanny of the Majority by the Minority for most of the three and 3/4 years. The Democrats only had the bulletproof Super Majority of 60 votes for 24 actual working days, of the Senate during the first two years. There have been 241 fillabusters to stop or delay legislation. Senator Kennedy died during the first two years, and Senator Frankens apppointment was held up, because of recounts.

        Scott Brown didn’t know that we have oil subsdies or he decided to answer the question incorrectly, he claimed they only get deductions, when asked….http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/07/11/514825/scott-brown-oil-companies-dont-get-subsidies/

        He was a Co-Sponsor of the Blunt ammendment, voted Agaist the Fair Pay for Women. His only bi-partisen votes have been when he knew it wouldn’t matter in the final outcome, but he could spout about them in MA. Look his voting record up, it is astoundingly bad for Americans.  http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/18919/

        • Doubting Thomas

          To be perfectly frank, the most disturbing to me is his weakening of the Dodd-Frank regulation, already significantly weakened, before voting for it, that bothers me the most.

          Until we can build our economy on something other than quicksand, it won’t grow very well. Especially since someone in the exotic investment community can just pull the plug whenever they want, walk off with a cart full of cash, and leave us with… debt.

          Scott Brown doesn’t want us to build on solid ground. Neither do his backers on Wall Street. Warren does. Her work in the CFPB proves it.

  • just saying

    How about Scott Brown’s old pickup truck?  He is a lawyer and politician trying to pass himself off as blue collar. 

  • jefe68

    One wonders how low Scott Brown will go in trying to get reelected.
    It just shows how messed up the GOP really is, and desperate.

  • comment

    At the end of Republican Senator Scott Brown’s ad, he uses a clip at which point he stops Elizabeth Warren’s words in mid sentence,   …..”I don’t think so, you never know..but the real question here is why is my opponent willing to talk about anything other than his record…..going on to expand she says, his record of voting against women, against those things that really matter to middle class families and the people of this commonwealth…..

    Go back and look at how the Republican “bully” candidate formulates his negative…oops, that’s right, it is only Scott Brown who is so victim to that negative advertising?….(OK, how he formulates his) negative press releases, campaign propaganda, web distortion, and, yes, negative TV advertising.

    The question is…..are the voters of this commonwealth paying attention beyond the pretty face?

  • Pathological

    Anothef birther moment fromScott Brown. How embarrasing for Massachusetts. He cant go soon enough!

  • Guest

    Good comments. I can’t add to these remarks.  Thanks

  • FrancisMcManus

    When Warren criticizes Scott Brown’s *voting record* in the US Senate, you call it an ‘attack’.  Note that what Warren is criticizing is an *uncontested fact*.

    When Brown makes assertions that are contested as fact — such as assertions about  Warren’s  family heritage, or her allegedly benefitting wrongly from affirmative action,  or her performance in an asbestos litigation case,  and calling her a plagiarist, or saying she’s incompetent as an academic researcher — these  ‘attacks’ are not *uncontested facts*, they are assertions, and insinuations accompanied by an argument intended to substantiate, the merit of which is not settled.   These attacks are not attacks on *uncontested fact.*

    The press seems willing to print assertions and insinuation — whatever the candidate says –  without performing the due diligence that other news gets. 

    Calling both of these types of criticisms ‘attacks’ without further characterization is a failure of journalism.

  • J__o__h__n

    All “negative ads” are not equal.  She criticized Brown’s voting record as a senator.  Brown went after her character. 

  • Gcre

    Good for him for fighting back.  She reneged last week on her pledge to not engage in negative ads, so why shouldn’t he? 

    • J__o__h__n

      The pledge was no outside groups funding ads (which almost always are negative).  Both have honored that pledge.  Since when is calling attention to a senator’s voting record a negative ad?

  • SSyd

    What a loser, figuratively and hopefully literally. If Scott Brown could stand on his record he wouldn’t have to dig into Elizabeth Warren’s heritage. He didn’t help the unemployed in Massachusetts at a crucial time. When “average guys” the people he claims to represent needed a helping hand, Scott Brown turned his back on them by not supporting an extension on unemployment, not a handout but a right we pay for with each paycheck. Now he wants their vote. Yet he had no trouble voting with other Republicans on oil subsudies.

    Where is the new revenue from Washington? Where are the jobs he helped to create? And when has being Native American been an advantage in racist America? Which is ironic since the Native Americans are the real Americans. The English came over here and the Native Americans welcomed them with open arms which resulted in them catching diseases they never had to be concerned with before the English arrived. Those who didn’t die from disease were visciously killed for their land and Scott Brown sees claiming this heritage as advantageous?  He should ask someone who lives on a Reservation how great it is.

    Perhaps he should rethink that because it makes no sense. He should check his own background, as far back as it goes and he will find that he and every other person on this planet originated from a black women in Africa. Not my claim, it’s on record at Yale University. Check for yourself. Yet white privilege only applies to white people…….who are white in color only, not lineage. Elizabeth Warren could clearly not have mentioned her Native American heritage at all, which by the way cannot always be traced by Genealogists because no one bothered to keep records on Native Americans anymore than they felt obligated to keep records on slaves.

    And that little comment he made at the end of their debate about “she clearly is not Native American” shows just how ignorant he really is. There are many Native Americans whose complexions are whiter than his, and black as the night, not all are Redskins Mr. Brown. My mother was full blooded Winnebego Indian and I do not look like the stereotype of the Native American either, would he look at me and say, he is clearly not Native American? If he did, he would be quite wrong.

  • blucat2000

    He’s doubling down on this line of attack which to some of us seems totally ridiculous. I guess it must be gaining traction amongst those that no little of her and he see’s this as his best move right now.

    These political battles are really hard to watch if you have a mind seeking to discuss and solve issues. Unfortunately, this type of tactic is becoming the norm now rather than the exception.

  • Jmlorimer

    Who cares about Elizabeth Warren’s heritage? What a non-issue.  I’m more interested in Brown’s voting record. His attacks on Warren’s family background  are just sleazy. Talk  about the issues that  REALLY  matter — like the positive changes Warren has made to protect consumers from being ripped off by banks and credit card companies.  Brown also has a very low rating among pro-environment groups. I care more about clean air and clean water and renewable energy than I care about  Warren’s family tree.

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