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BOSTON — Elizabeth Warren, the newest Democratic candidate in the bid to unseat Republican Sen. Scott Brown, began her campaign Wednesday with multiple Massachusetts stops.
Here's a measure of the buzz that Warren is generating in Massachusetts: Tuesday night, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the Republican front-runner in the presidential race, was the main speaker at a Boston dinner, but Republicans at the event were talking about Warren's decision to run against Brown.
Wednesday morning, Warren greeted voters and recruited volunteers at the Broadway subway station in South Boston.
"It's very nice to see you," Warren said.
"I cannot wait to work on your campaign," one person said. "We're so excited."
"Very eager interns."
"That's exactly what I need."
By shaking hands with voters, Warren is sending a signal that she is not Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate who last year lost to Brown in the special election to replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. During that campaign, Brown had been outside Fenway Park, greeting hockey fans at a rare outdoor game. When asked why she wasn't out there, Coakley replied: "In the cold?"
Republicans are trying to paint Warren as an out-of-touch Harvard professor. So she was out there Wednesday, mingling.
"This is fun," she said.
"You think this is fun?" she was asked.
"It's better than a congressional hearing."
Warren has spent a lot of time in congressional hearings over the past few years, as a champion for a newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"I've stood up to some pretty powerful interests over the last few years," Warren said Wednesday. "I've gone toe to toe with them, and I didn't back down. In the case of the consumer agency, we actually won, even though people told us: 'You're going to be up against the biggest lobbying force assembled on the face of the Earth. No possible way you're going to win this.' "
Republicans opposed her, and President Obama ended up finding someone else to run the agency.
By kicking off her campaign in traditionally Irish South Boston, Warren is going after the working-class voters who supported Brown. An AFL-CIO survey after the election found that half of the union vote went to Brown.
Carpenter Dennis Flaherty knows why Brown won.
"He made a good impression here in South Boston," Flaherty said. "He made a lot of trips over here. ... I was shocked at how well Brown did."
Across the street, Greg Nowak was ordering coffee at Dunkin' Donuts before heading over to his job in the Financial District. Last year, Nowak voted for Brown.
"What motivated you to support him?" I asked.
"To stop the health care passage, to be honest with you," he said. "That'll do it!"
Brown promised to be an independent senator, and he sometimes bucks his own party on important votes. For example, he voted to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military.
Katherine Kinzel voted for Brown, too, but the 25-year-old researcher at Brigham And Women's Hospital says she's open to Warren.
"She seems like a genuine person," Kinzel said. "[I'm] still waiting to see what she has to say, how she plays out against the other Democratic candidates, just how she turns out to be a candidate, because there's a long way to go."
The primary is a year away and six other Democrats are running. They are: Newton Mayor Setti Warren (no relation to Elizabeth); City Year co-founder Alan Khazei; immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco; state Rep. Tom Conroy; engineer Herb Robinson; and activist Robert Massie.
A recent poll for WBUR found that Warren does better than other candidates against Brown, but the incumbent remains the most popular politician in the state.
This program aired on September 14, 2011.
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