Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Elizabeth Warren sparred in their second debate Monday night, an hour-long forum co-sponsored by the Boston Herald and UMass Lowell and moderated by "Meet The Press" host David Gregory.
While Brown -- who frequently touts his independence and bipartisanship -- was careful to keep his distance from Mitt Romney and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the debate, towards the end of the night he cited noted conservative Antonin Scalia as his model Supreme Court justice.
Brown was somewhat toned down from his attack-mode of the first debate, but the senator got plenty of jabs in -- including telling Warren, "Excuse me, I'm not a student in your classroom," at one point when Warren was interrupting him, in an apparent prepared zinger that earned him some boos from the packed audience.
As with the first time the two candidates squared off, Warren was asked about the controversy over her claims of Native American heritage right off the bat. "It's part of who I am," she said. "I consider myself as having a Native American background."
But unlike in the previous debate, when Brown aggressively hit on the issue from the start, he first said, "You have to ask her" about her background, and pivoted back to the campaign being about jobs and the economy. However, he once again called for Warren to release her personnel records and said he did "question the fact that she misled the voters," on how Harvard knew she was a Native American.
Brown was also asked about his comment earlier this year that he meets with "kings and queens," and said he wasn't guilty of exaggeration. "When I make a mistake I correct it," he said, pivoting back to Warren again.
Both candidates were asked about their work as attorneys. Warren noted that she hasn't seen a list of Brown's clients, saying all she knows is he worked for banks and mortgage companies. He characterized her work for LTV Steel as an effort to deny coal miners their health benefits. Warren said Brown's characterization that her work hurt asbestos victims couldn't be further from the truth, maintaining that she was protecting the system for them.
Brown was asked whether he'd be a reliable ally for Romney if he won the presidential race (President Obama is expected to beat the former Massachusetts governor by a hefty margin in the state). In response, Brown touted his independence and said he votes about "50 percent for my party," and 50 percent with Democrats. Gregory pressed him on whether he supports Romney, with whom he shares consultant Eric Fehrnstrom. "When it comes to dealing with economic issues, absolutely," said Brown.
Meanwhile, Warren, when asked to name a Republican senator she'd be able to work with, named Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar -- who lost his primary in May and won't be returning to the Senate.
Brown was asked whether he'd vote for Mitch McConnell for Senate Majority Leader -- another tricky issue for him in Democratic-leaning Massachusetts.
Brown said he was undecided, and that he's told McConnell he's "completely disgusted with what's going on" in Washington. "Thank goodness we have people like me," who work across the aisle, he said.
Asked about Brown's comments, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart declined to comment. "I just don't have anything for you on that months-old statement," Stewart said.
Warren noted that Brown is raising money off the notion that supporting him means supporting a Republican majority in the Senate, and said that he would work to block Obama's agenda. She also pointed out that Brown had signed Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge, characterizing it as an "extremist right-wing pledge" not to raises taxes on millionaires and billionaires.
Both candidates were asked to name their model Supreme Court Justice -- and Brown's answer was met with a round of boos. He first named Scalia, and then -- in the midst of boos -- added Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor.
Warren, asked the same question, said Elena Kagan -- a justice Brown did not vote to confirm.
Warren has been leading in most recent surveys of the race. The two will face off again on Oct. 10 and Oct. 30.
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