Elizabeth Warren came out aggressively and dominated Scott Brown by highlighting his support for tax cuts for the wealthy and subsidies for big oil.
Watch the full debate:
Warren weathered an early storm by having to answer questions about the flap over whether she used her heritage as an advantage in order to get hired. Warren quickly turned the tables on Brown and was able to shake his bipartisan image by pointing out that he voted against three jobs bills. Warren continually returned to the point that Sen. Brown will hold tax cuts for the 98% hostage unless taxes are cut for the top 2%. For his part, Brown kept using statistics from big business and the Chamber of Commerce in order to paint Warren as a tax and spend liberal.
Knowing that he is trailing badly with women, Brown highlighted his pro-choice beliefs and his work on the Violence Against Women Act. Warren pointed out that Brown voted against equal pay for equal work, a pro-choice justice, and against women’s access to birth control. Brown tried to use the religious freedom argument and claimed that he wasn’t going to put women against their church. Warren reminded him that the president had already resolved the religious freedom issue, but he supported the harsh Blunt Amendment. Brown tried to claim Ted Kennedy fought for the same thing and told Warren to stop tying to scare women. Brown relied on the old “I have a house full of women” line to defend his vote against equal pay for equal work.
A really bizarre moment occurred while they were debating foreign policy. Warren brought up Mitt Romney, and Brown replied by praising Hillary Clinton. (Mitt Romney really is that toxic.) Warren tied herself to Obama’s foreign policy, which was a smart move in a state where the President is leading by 18-28 points.
Brown jabbed at Warren’s annual income, and kept coming back to the claim that she wants to raise taxes. Scott Brown’s strategy is simple. He is hoping to peel off conservative Democrats by portraying Warren as an extreme tax and spend liberal. Warren hit Brown for voting to raise student loan rates, and opposing closing a loophole that is used by the wealthy. Brown’s consistent reply when his voting record was brought is that Warren is lying about his record.
Brown tried several different personal attacks on Warren including her heritage, income, and the Traveler’s insurance case. Sen. Brown seemed willing to talk about anything except his voting record, unless he was talking about the votes where he sided with Obama. Brown tried to appeal to union voters with the Keystone pipeline lie, which Warren knocked down. Warren scored big by pointing out that if Brown wins, and the Republicans take control of the Senate, global warming denier Jim Inhofe will be in charge of oversight of the EPA.
Warren kept returning to the theme that women and the middle class need a senator that they can depend on all of the time. Elizabeth Warren has probably surprised a lot of people including the Brown campaign by going toe to toe with Sen. Brown. It was hard to believe that this was her first ever debate. She was strong, and most importantly she passed the eyeball and ear test. She looked and sounded like a United States Senator.
Scott Brown wasn’t horrible, but in a Blue State where Obama is popular, any conservatism in his record presents a risk. Elizabeth Warren did an excellent job showing voters the difference between a Republican who is trying to buddy up to Obama in order to save his job, and a real progressive Democrat.
This was one of the best debates of the year at any level of American politics in 2012. Scott Brown tried to muddy the water, and sell himself as a pseudo-Democrat, but what really emerged is that this race has two strong candidates with very different visions for the country.
It is easy to see why Warren has jumped out to a lead. She has momentum. Brown tried early to disrupt that by trying to raise questions about her character. The polls weren’t a myth. This wasn’t a bump. After the initial questions on her heritage, Elizabeth Warren had Sen. Brown on the defensive for the rest of the hour. Brown didn’t look ready tonight, and he is in real trouble here.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association