Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown held the first in a series of debates last night and it didn’t take long for Scott Brown to come out swinging on the “character issue”, hitting Warren right off the bat on the so called “native American” subject. Brown’s initial thrust managed, in my opinion, to knock Warren off stride a bit, and more importantly utilized valuable time that could have been used to discuss issues, which of course came later.
Eventually Elizabeth Warren managed to get the discussion to where she wanted it to be, on those issues facing the Commonwealth and the Country. Issues raised included Warren focusing in like a laser on specific votes taken by Senator Brown, including voting against equal pay for equal work for women, the support of Senator Brown for tax breaks for oil companies, and his vote against Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. Brown continually returned to the charge that Elizabeth Warren wanted to raise taxes, and he continually defended the votes he has taken in that context. I do believe that the closest comparison might be the tact that Bill Weld took against John Kerry in those debates for U.S. Senate. An exclusive focus on the tax issue, and other hot button Republican issues, did not work very well for Weld, and I do believe that the tax equity issue, rather than the generic issue of being against “tax increases”, is what is resonating with people in Massachusetts.
Did either Senator Brown or Elizabeth Warren manage to achieve their debate goals? Did either candidate “win”? In light of the obvious initial edge in Party registration for Democrats Scott Brown should have a clear goal. Win over independent voters. I think both sides appealed to the Party faithful, but what about independents? The Romney drag is starting to weigh down Republicans nationwide, especially in races like this. Independents appear to be turned off to the Republican message, and although Scott Brown is fleeing as quickly as he can from the Romney campaign it is a rocky road for him. Let us, in the next post, look at some of the Suffolk poll cross tabs that may answer the ever important question on independents.
Who do you think won?