Organizers Cancel 4th Mass. U.S. Senate Debate

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The fourth and final debate in the U.S. Senate race appears to have become a casualty of Hurricane Sandy.

The debate was supposed to happen Tuesday, but Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, pulled out in deference to the storm. And Tuesday night, the consortium running the debate — which includes WBUR — announced that the debate will not take place.

The statement from the consortium says the campaigns could not agree on a new date. The Warren campaign sent a statement saying it had been working with the consortium to reschedule the debate for Thursday. The Brown campaign sent out its own statement saying that because of a long-planned bus tour, it could not accommodate a rescheduling.

The bus tour notwithstanding, at Horseneck Beach in Westport Tuesday, Brown said he would have loved to have debated.

"But, the act of God, we obviously had a major event here in the eastern United States, and we both agreed appropriately to cancel it," Brown said. "And there's only few days left, and we have a very, very busy schedule, as I'm sure my opponent does, so I'll refer that to the campaign."

Brown said he already had three debates so "people know where we stand on the issues. I'm going to continue to do my job."

Two hours later, Warren visited the same spot at Horseneck Beach. She seemed more interested in another debate, but professed to be as clueless as Brown on the actual scheduling.

"This is really about giving the people of Massachusetts a chance to see the two people who are running for the Senate office," Warren said. "This is a powerfully important race, and a race that may determine the control of the Senate."

When asked where things stand about the possibility of rescheduling, Warren said, "You know probably more than I know at this point."

Sandy may have handed Brown a political opportunity just by letting him do his job as senator, press in tow.

Tuesday, at Horseneck Beach, Brown went into a house that had been flooded by the storm.

"Went up to the third step in there," he said as he came out of the house.

Brown offered to help Jason Locke, whose parents own the house.

Jason Locke sweeps mud from his parents' home in Westport. (Fred Thys/WBUR)
Jason Locke sweeps mud from his parents' home in Westport. (Fred Thys/WBUR)

"Give us a call, OK? Insurance stuff, that sort of thing," he said. "Good luck. You're a good son, a good son. You're sure you don't need a hand getting the couch out or anything? 'Cause we're here! Don't be a hero, man."

Two hours later, Warren also stopped by. Locke wasn't around anymore. He had taken the couch out of the house, and it, along with all the other furniture, was drying out on the debris that had washed over the road that separated the house from the sea.

Warren ran into another man whose house had been flooded, John Rogers. But Warren is not the incumbent senator. She doesn't have the same resources so she can't offer help. And so, she's consigned to making small talk.

"So did you get up on the widow's walk and watch yesterday afternoon?" Warren asked Rogers.

"No, no, because the damage hit early," he replied. "The damage had hit about 3 o'clock."

"So, it was about 3 o'clock?" Warren asked.

"Yeah, the wind really picked up big here between 2 and 3," Rogers replied.

A Suffolk University poll conducted at the end of last week and last weekend finds Warren with a seven-point lead over Brown. Typically, it's the candidate who is ahead who is most reluctant to debate. But in this case, Warren, following in Brown's footsteps along the trail of wreckage left by Sandy, seemed be the one most willing to face her opponent one more time.

This post was updated with the Morning Edition feature story.

This article was originally published on October 30, 2012.

This program aired on October 30, 2012.

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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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