Wednesday featured the third and penultimate debate between Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts. It came on the heels of a new WBUR/Mass Live poll that was released showing Brown with a four point lead over Warren, 47% to 43%. When respondents who have not fully made up their minds but who are leaning toward one candidate are included, Brown's lead dropped to three. This senate race is already the most expensive race in state history, and is also the most expensive congressional race in the nation and will likely remain so. In a year in which Republicans are hoping to pick up seats in the senate, they are perhaps nowhere more vulnerable in Massachusetts — one of the bluest states in the nation.
For 55 minutes, Brown and Warren talked about jobs, taxes, student loan debt, health care, and foreign policy. In other words, not nearly enough time to talk about any of those issues in a satisfactory manner. This was no Lincoln-Douglas, though it still managed to be the most substantive debate of the three so far. This probably has to do with the fact that Warren's ancestry wasn't brought up at all, whereas in the previous two debates, it was the first "issue" out of the shoot.
Brown was his usual, confident self, though this did not make his positions any more palatable. After all, he is a person who has opposes tax cuts for Americans making less than $250,000 per year unless those making more than that figure are included. Put another way, Brown has turned down the chance to cut taxes for 98% of Americans because the top 2% weren't included. His position on the Bush tax cuts should be a state-wide scandal of epic proportions.
The blow-by-blow, as it happened
7:57pm: Debate over.
7:55pm: Warren says race is about the children and grandchildren. Says there are two different visions in this race. Says Brown wants to cut taxes for everyone at the top. She says she wants to make sure everyone pays their fair share. Calls for investing in the future.
7:54pm: Brown notes his bipartisan cred. Says he's one of a dying breed of moderates.
7:52pm: Closing statements.
7:51pm: Warren criticizing across-the-board cuts. Says she's prepared to fight for Westover and wouldn't cut a penny. Says she'd like to see standing army reduced in number.
7:49pm: Brown talking about local military bases, says they are critical. Really? Westover and Barnes? In case the other New England states declare war on Massachusetts?
7:47pm: Brown says he's the only one in the race who stands with Israel, as if he's running for the Knesset. Someday I hope we can do away with all this Israel-pandering.
7:45pm: Brown notes that he's a colonel. Tired of this. Let's just say it: he's a colonel in the National Guard, which is a little different from being a colonel in the U.S. Army or Marines.
7:44pm: Warren says Assad needs to go in Syria. She says Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. Supports Obama's position that no option is off the table. She supports sanctions in Iran and Syria. Says Obama is measure, but firm, and works with other countries.
7:43pm: Onto foreign policy. What she would do about Syria and Iran?
7:41pm: Warren alludes to the Blunt amendment in the senate, which would've allowed employers to cite some vague moral objection as an excuse for not providing contraceptives through their health insurance plans.
7:40pm: Warren hits Brown on voting against a bill that would ensure equal pay for equal work. Also notes his opposition to pro-choice Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
7:39pm: Brown talking about women's rights. Warren noting Blunt amendment in 3...2...1...
7:36pm: Brown says taxes shouldn't be raised on oil and gas companies because they'll pass the costs onto the consumer. Next time gas companies try to raise prices on me, I'll tell them they can't because I'll pass along the costs to other companies since I won't be able to buy their products.
7:33pm: Wow. A question on the mortgage tax deduction. Substantive! Warren opposes it for middle class families. She notes that Brown has taken the Grover Norquist pledge, which is that he won't vote to raise taxes on anyone or any company, ever.
7:32pm: Warren touts her work developing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Brown notes that he supported it. Says if it weren't for him being the deciding vote, it wouldn't have passed.
7:31pm: Brown basically proves Warren's point about him only wanting to launch attacks by launching attacks on Warren's professional history.
7:30pm: Warren says GOP vision is to cut taxes for those at the top and "let the chips fall where they may." Says millionaires and corporations should pay their "fair share." Warren says Brown doesn't want to talk about his voting record, and just wants to launch attacks.
7:28pm: Brown slamming Warren for her work as an attorney with corporate clients, essentially calling her a hypocrite.
7:25pm: Brown says Obamacare will crush medical device manufacturers in Massachusetts in new taxes. Reiterates claim that it will hurt seniors. By the way, Brown has said, "With all due respect...." twice. The over/under on that is 2.5.
7:23pm: Brown says that the government is already going to cut the military budget. In truth, the "cuts" in question are against projected spending increases, meaning the Pentagon's budget is going to increase just as it has for decades.
7:22pm: Warren says she would cut agriculture subsidies and the military budget. Bigtime Brown rebuttal on the latter coming up on that in about 10 seconds.
7:21pm: Warren is noting the implications of Republican control of the U.S. Senate, which may very well involve cuts to education.
7:20pm: Brown notes that he went to Wakefield High School. Two can play at that game!
7:18pm: Warren says she's proud to be from Massachusetts for the second time tonight. A bit much. Says the federal government needs to be a good partner with state and local officials by investing in STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math. Praises Head Start program. "We need to invest our children. It's our moral responsbility, and frankly it's just good economics."
7:17pm: Brown was asked how he would help local schools as a U.S. Senator, and I defy anyone to find a specific answer in his response.
7:16pm: Warren supporters applaud again. Once female Brown supporter in the crowd really hates it. To quote her and her alone: "BOOOO!"
7:14pm: Brown hitting Warren on her Harvard salary and no interest rate loan.
7:14pm: Onto student loan debt:
7:12pm: Warren notes the AARP's endorsement of Obamacare, despite Brown's assertions that the law harms seniors by cutting Medicare.
7:11pm: Is it me, or do most of Brown's debate responses drip with a sense of indignation?
7:10pm: Warren supporters break rules and applaud. Brown supporters boo applause.
7:06pm: Brown: To think that the federal government should tell Massachusetts how to run its health care system is not good. Would repeal Obamacare.
7:04pm: Scott Brown thanks Bob Cousy for his endorsement. The Cooz!
7:03pm: Asked about putting people back to work, Warren hits Brown for his opposition to three jobs bills proposed by President Obama and Senate Democrats.
7:02pm: Incredible! The debate starts with something other than Warren's ancestry!
7:01pm: Moderator is going over the rules. Audience will not boo or applause. Boooo!
6:52pm: Just curious, Senator — is Ayla still (not) available?
6:45pm: Tonight's over/under on how many times Scott Brown says, "With all due respect..." by which he means, "With no respect whatsoever...." is 2.5.
6:00pm: T-minus one hour to what will likely be another substance-less debate, which is unfortunate for Warren because Brown is entirely incapable of speaking at any depth on taxes, trade, and the economy in general.
5:37pm: Anyone who thinks Elizabeth Warren would rubber-stamp the Obama administration's policies needs to take a look at this grilling she gave Obama's Treasury secretary Tim Geithner when she was head of the TARP oversight committee. As head of the New York Federal Reserve during the Bush administration, Geithner thought it would be a good idea to bail out the counterparties of insurance giant AIG with taxpayer money at a whopping 100 cents on the dollar. Since those counterparties were entitled to absolutely nothing, Warren asked Geithner just why in the hell the government, with such enormous leverage over the counterparties, would agree to step and bail them out for every penny they were owed by AIG.
5:32pm: Here's a video of Scott Brown asking billionaire oil tycoon and right-wing extremist David Koch for more campaign contributions:
5:25pm: For those of you looking to make the debate more interesting, try out this handy Massachusetts senate debate drinking game.
5:16pm: They say you can tell a lot about candidates by the dogs they own. And by "they" I mean "I." Nevertheless, let's have a look at the dogs of Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown.
Now meet Koda and Snuggles:
5:01pm: Howie Carr gets more pathetic by the day. The Boston Herald's most well-known gasbag has written the same vapid column about this race no fewer than 450 times. Here's how he started his latest case of verbal diarrhea:
"Hey, Scott Brown, it’s time to start pulling back a little on the fake-Indian attacks on the fake Indian.
"By now, everybody understands that Granny Warren is a fraud. The best argument the moonbats can come up with is that if she thinks she’s an Indian, who are we to say she’s not an Indian?"
Are people still entertained by this kind of tripe? Carr doesn't even try anymore. He just coasts on the same platitutdes and lame insults he's been hurling at liberals for 20 years. Moonbat? How originial. The thing is, it's not even the name-calling that bothers me about Carr, but rather the fact that he's a talentless bore who couldn't write his way to third place in a sixth-grade essay contest.
3:39pm: A look at the the big contributors in this race, courtesy of OpenSecrets.org.
3:19pm: Here's Scott Brown's latest ad, directly targeting voters in western Massachusetts:
3:05pm: If Martha Coakley had done more of this in 2010, she would be the junior senator from Massachusetts at the moment.
Brown won this seat, left vacant by the passing of Ted Kennedy, in a January 2010 special election against Attorney General Martha Coakley. Initially a heavy underdog, Brown secured victory by casting himself as a moderate, pro-choice Republican who could work with Republicans and Democrats alike. Coupled with a poorly-run Coakley campaign, whose candidate often seemed cold and distant, Brown became the first Republican to represent the Bay State in the U.S. Senate since Edward Brooke in 1979.
Unfortunately, the exchanges in the first two debates have not been very substantive. By now it is clear that the Brown campaign thinks it can fend off Warren's challenge simply by beating the dead horse that is Cherokee-gate:
To which the Warren campaign responded with:
Furthermore, in each of the last two debates, Warren's ancestry was the first topic discussed. In the second debate, it was discussed more than immigration, foreign policy, and health care combined. It's time to move onto actual issues, if that's even possible. We'll see tonight how prominently the ancestry business figures in the debate. Hopefully the answer is, not at all.
Real Clear Politics has a complete list of independent polls conducted in this race, which may be the most heavily polled in the nation:
Bookmark this page and tune in tonight live at 7pm, as PolicyMic brings you live-streaming and live-blogging coverage of tonight's debate.