Warren-Brown Third Debate: Massachusetts Candidates Talk Issues, Not Claims to Native Heritage

In their third senate debate that took place October 10, Incumbent U. S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren did not descend into a discussion about Warren’s claim to Delaware and Cherokee ancestry.

In both prior debates, Brown raised the issue of whether Warren benefited from listing Native American ethnicity in law school academic directories in the 1980s. But following a wave of media criticism, Brown’s campaign has since recoiled from its attacks against Warren’s asserted heritage. Brown and his supporters have been accused of perpetrating negative stereotypes of American Indians—most blatantly in a video of Brown’s aides whooping and chopping the air. Brown later apologized for  the behavior of his staff.

Instead at last night’s hour-long debate held in Springfield’s Symphony Hall and moderated by Jim Madigan of WGBY-TV, the candidates talked issues: jobs; health care policy; the high cost of college; taxes, spending and the deficit; and policies affecting women, reported Boston.com.

Throughout the debate, Brown reiterated his promise not to increase taxes on anyone, while Warren argued Brown didn’t support the middle class but rather is focused on relieving the burden on “millionaires and billionaires.”

Brief snippets of the candidates’ arguments on the key issues addressed at the third debate follow. The final debate will take place October 30 in Boston.


Warren criticized Brown for voting against three jobs bills for the purpose, she said, of preventing a tax increase on “those making a million dollars or more.” Brown retorted the bills had been rejected “in a bipartisan manner.”

Health Care Policy

Brown said he supports the state’s health care reform bill, and insisted that the Affordable Care Act would undo the Massachusetts plan. He echoed Mitt Romney’s argument from the presidential debate last week that “Obamacare would remove three-quarters of a trillion dollars” from the Medicare program.

Warren quickly slapped it down. “That’s the same playbook that Mitt Romney used a week ago tonight. It was wrong then, it’s wrong tonight,” said Warren, adding that the plan was created to “take waste, fraud, and insurance subsidies out and strengthen Medicare.”

High Cost of College

Warren said Brown voted twice last year to let interest rates double on student loans. “The whole idea is to say, What are your priorities? Is it protecting loopholes for millionaires or helping college kids pay for an education?” Warren said.

Taxes, Spending and the Deficit

Brown said the only way to revive the economy is by reining in federal spending and keeping tax rates low. “The one thing we can’t be doing right now in the middle of this three-and-a-half-year recession is taking more money out of people’s hardworking pocketbooks,” Brown said.

Warren said she is “willing to make substantial cuts,” but emphasized the need “to raise revenues.”

“Senator Brown and the Republicans” believe that they can “cut taxes for those at the very top and then let everybody else pick up the pieces,” Warren said. “I believe we can do better than that and we must do better than that. I believe everybody pays a fair share. Even millionaires, billionaires’ and even big oil companies. When everybody pays a fair share, we can all make the investments in the future.”

Policies Affecting Women

“We’re both pro-choice. We both support Roe v. Wade. There’s no secret about that. I believe very, obviously very much, in women getting the same pay and benefits,” Brown said.

But Warren stole the stage when she listed Brown’s voting record on women’s issues: “He had one chance to vote for equal pay for equal work, and he voted no,” she said. “He had one chance to vote to mandate that health-insurance companies cover contraception, and he voted no. And he had one chance to vote to put a pro-choice woman on the Supreme Court, and he voted no.”


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Warren-Brown Third Debate: Massachusetts Candidates Talk Issues, Not Claims to Native Heritage

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