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Boston and Beyond

September 21, 2012

High-stakes clash

Brown, Warren spar on taxes, abortion, energy policy, Iran in first Senate debate

BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren tussled in a feisty first Senate debate last night, with Brown insisting that Warren was “obsessed” with raising taxes, while Warren painted the incumbent as a politician interested in protecting the wealthy over working families.

The debate, televised live on WBZ-TV and hosted by political analyst Jon Keller, was the first of four head-to-head matchups between the candidates.

It turned into a free-wheeling affair with both Brown and Warren given great leeway to parry back and forth.

It was also Warren’s first high-stakes political debate and a chance, she would say after the debate, to introduce herself to the voters of Massachusetts who may be more familiar with her popular opponent.

With four of five polls this week showing her leading the race by a narrow margin, Warren came prepared to try to use Brown’s voting record against him. Brown, meanwhile, appeared intent on talking up his bipartisan streak, speaking directly to the camera on several occasions to make the point that he will never vote to raise taxes.

While the two candidates sparred over taxes, abortion, energy policy and Iran, it was Brown who immediately set the tone for the night, wasting little time before questioning his opponent’s character and her claimed Native American heritage.

“I think what you’re referring to is the fact is that she claimed she was Native American, a person of color . . . And as you can see clearly she is not,” Brown said, when asked whether Warren’s character was an issue in the race. Brown said Warren could put the issue to rest by releasing her personnel records at Harvard to prove she didn’t benefit from claiming minority status.

On the question of character and truthfulness, Brown said, “I believe and others believe she has failed that test.”

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