Warren Inches Toward Nationalizing Race
Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren moved on Thursday to warn voters that voting for Republican Sen. Scott Brown could tilt the chamber to the GOP -- and added an admonition about what that could mean.
Breaking with her months-long strategy of confining her attacks primarily to Brown's voting record, Warren used the closing moments of the campaign's first televised debate to tell Massachusetts voters that returning Brown to the Senate could mean that a climate change skeptic -- Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe -- would chair the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
"Remember, this race could be for control of the Senate," she said during the WBZ-TV debate, adding, "It's not just about Sen. Brown's vote, this is about the votes of all of the Republicans."
The race is one of the most closely observed nationally, with Democrats viewing Brown, in his first term after winning a 2010 special election to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, as a prime knock-off opportunity while they play defense elsewhere.
Since Warren, a Harvard Law professor and consumer advocate, entered the race last year, her campaign has resisted the "voting for Scott Brown is voting for Majority Leader McConnell" tack. Warren had feinted at nationalization before, attacking Missouri GOP Rep. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comments. But Brown, characteristically of a campaign that's been remarkably opportunistic, had beaten her to the punch, leading the Republican backlash against Akin.
Thursday night was her largest stride by far toward shackling Brown to a party that is deeply unpopular in Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney received 31 percent support against President Obama in a recent poll.
One Warren adviser told National Journal in late March that there "wasn't a lot of dissension" over the decision to criticize Brown's record and highlight her biography at the expense of linking him with national Republicans, adding, "If the race came down to our narrative versus his narrative, we'd feel pretty good about that."