Scott Brown tried to morph into Mitt Romney with an endless stream of lies, but Elizabeth Warren was ready and stormed past the incumbent in their third debate.
The third Brown/Warren debate got off to a start similar to the first two with Elizabeth Warren backing the Obama job creation position, while Scott Brown touted his conservatism and his votes with Obama. The next question was about Obamacare and Brown lied by claiming that healthcare reform is a tax hike, and it contains big cuts for Medicare. (Brown surprisingly echoed the Romney position on this issue.) Warren got a round of applause from the crowd for calling out Brown for taking a page from the Romney playbook, and she delivered some straight talk on Obamacare. Brown responded by repeating the $716 billion Medicare lie. Warren cited the AARP and blasted Brown for citing a Medicare cut number that, “simply isn’t true.”
On the question of education, Warren hit Brown for voting against keeping the student loan interest rate low. Brown responded with a personal attack on Warren by talking about her income, and her housing from Harvard. Brown actually claimed that Warren’s income was the reason why the cost of education is going up. Warren responded by asking whose side Brown was on when he decided to support loopholes for millionaires over low student interest rates. (Interestingly, even though Brown has made up nothing in the polls, he is still sticking with the strategy of personal attacks against Elizabeth Warren.)
Brown used the next question about public education to keep trying to defend his record on student loans. While Brown defended his record, Warren laid out an education plan and voiced her support for Head Start and pre-Head Start. She called investing in our children a moral responsibility and good economics. (Without national talking head David Gregory muddling up the debate by trying to create controversy, debate #3 has been crisp and more issue focused than the second debate.)
When asked where she would cut the budget, Warren said she would cut agricultural subsidies and the military. She said she would not cut Social Security or Medicare. Warren also advocated Obama’s balanced approached to cut the deficit. She said she is willing to make cuts and raise revenues. Brown said that he refused to cut the military budget. Brown reverted back to Obamacare lies and said he would cut $2 trillion from the deficit by repealing Obamacare. Brown also refused to raise any taxes. Warren hit Brown for advocating repealing Obamacare, which will increase the deficit. She debunked the study Brown cited as from being a right wing group. Brown responded by pushing forward with Obamacare lies.
Scott Brown was asked to define the middle class by dollar value, and he danced around, but never answered the question. While avoiding an answer Brown again personally attacked Warren. Elizabeth Warren talked about how America’s middle class is getting hammered. She defined the middle class as people who work hard, play by the rules, and invest in the future. Warren again tied Brown to Romney by saying that there are two visions for this race, tax cuts for the wealthy versus everyone paying their fair share.
Brown got booed by the crowd for going back into personal attacks on Warren. Elizabeth Warren responded by telling Brown that she went to Washington to fight for a new consumer agency. Brown tried to take credit for Warren’s agency, by saying it wouldn’t have passed if he wouldn’t have voted for it. (The crowd jeered again.) Warren came back and hit Brown on Dodd-Frank.
After Warren brought up Brown signing the Norquist tax pledge, Brown voiced his support for the pledge. Scott Brown clearly is moving to right. Warren kept hitting Brown for letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the 98%. Sen. Brown actually lapsed into right wing job creator talk. Brown’s pseudo-Democrat mask is off, and tonight he showed himself to be a right wing Republican.
When Brown was asked about women’s rights he used his I live with a houseful of women line, and claimed that he supports equal pay for women. Brown mentioned his support for the Violence Against Women Act, and stated that he is pro-choice. Warren said Brown is a good husband and father, but hit him with his votes against equal pay for equal work, birth control coverage, and a pro-choice Supreme Court justice. Warren said the people of the state need a senator that they can count on all of the time.
The questioning moved to foreign policy and Syria, where Warren supported Obama’s approach to dealing with Syria and Iran. Warren said she is glad to support Obama as Commander in Chief and she does not want to see Mitt Romney in that job. Brown went back by claiming that military cuts can’t happen.
Brown tried to undo his move right by using his closing statement to play up his moderate status, and his 54% voting record with the Democratic Party. Warren used her closing statement to lay out the two different visions for the future. Warren repeated her stance that everyone must pay their fair share.
Scott Brown’s campaign clearly thinks that Romney’s revived fortunes mean that they can move to the right, but Brown’s move towards Romney was a disaster. This race is starting to mirror the presidential contest with Warren clearly supporting Obama and Brown using Romney talking points.
The strategy of using Mitt Romney as your guidepost in a state where he is going lose by 20-30 points is questionable at best. Sen. Brown really doesn’t have many options left. Moving to the middle has not worked for him, but by moving to the right, he is risking alienating some of his supporters.
Elizabeth Warren keeps getting better in these debates, and Scott Brown doesn’t seem to have a clue about how to defend his record. This might have been Brown’s worst debate so far. He doesn’t have a clear message, and he kept shifting from moderate to hardcore conservative.
These are two excellent candidates, and their issue focused third debate was a good one. Elizabeth Warren has the wind at her back in a close blue state senate election. In a state where Obama will dominate, it was smart of Warren to tie herself to Obama, while Scott Brown was embracing the Romney iceberg that could sink his Titanic.
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