But Warren, who surged in several polls this week, has also hit rough patches, drawing questions from top Democrats about the efficacy of her campaign.
The Brown campaign is aware of the toxicity of the national GOP's specter in the commonwealth, and has been since before Brown was elected. In late Dec. 2009, with internal polls showing Brown competitive against Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley, his campaign quietly waved off assistance from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, worried about just that dynamic.
"You're not running against Jim Inhofe," Brown said Thursday. "You're running against me, professor."
Brown has slapped down Akin, quickly distanced himself from Romney's "47 percent" comments, and during Thursday's debate continued to underscore what he calls his independence, rhetorically cozying up to both labor and female voters.
Warren could revert to the more tightly focused target that is Brown. Her comments on national Republicans came only during the last several minutes of the debate, and she spent far more time picking apart his votes on taxes and contraception, and defending her own ancestry claims and academic career. But the Inhofe gambit represented a marked shift - however brief - from a campaign that so far has steadfastly refused to make it.