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Elizabeth Warren invokes legacy of Edward Kennedy

  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.
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  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.
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  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.
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  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012. From left are Gazette online managing editor Stanley Moulton, editor Larry Parnass and reporter Ben Storrow.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012. From left are Gazette online managing editor Stanley Moulton, editor Larry Parnass and reporter Ben Storrow.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.
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  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

    GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012. From left are Gazette online managing editor Stanley Moulton, editor Larry Parnass and reporter Ben Storrow.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren meets with editorial staff of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday, October 22, 2012.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

NORTHAMPTON — Elizabeth Warren invoked the memory of the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy — who for decades held the seat she is seeking — several times during an interview at the Gazette on Monday.

Warren, the Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, said that like Kennedy she would champion middle-class interests while reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans.

Warren, who polls show is locked in a tight contest with Brown, mentioned Kennedy several times during the hour-long interview with Gazette editors and reporters.

Warren used Kennedy as her example when asked about her approach to constituent service.

“I learned about constituent services from Ted Kennedy,” she said. “For Ted Kennedy it mattered and it mattered all the way down to his toes . . . I saw it first hand and I think . . . you spend your time, your resources to make sure it happens.”

She touted her experience as a consumer advocate advising Kennedy. “I spent 15 years working with Sen. Kennedy on pension reform and medical bankruptcies,” she said.

And she promised a Kennedy-esque approach to legislating. Warren described how she was named head of a congressional panel charged with overseeing the $700 billion paid to the country’s largest financial institutions in 2008 under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The bipartisan panel was required to produce a report on the bailout every 30 days, she said, adding that half of those reports were agreed to unanimously by members of the committee. That, Warren said, is an example of her ability to build consensus.

But when compromise is not possible, Warren said she is a proven fighter. She was leading the effort to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when Senate Republicans threatened to block it. Warren said she then turned to the “outside” game and worked with labor unions and the AARP, among other interest groups, to build public support for the agency.

“Frankly that is what Sen. Kennedy did for 47 years,” Warren said. “He was the consummate insider, reaching across the aisle on what we could agree on and of course for many of those years in a very different Senate. He did that, but he also played the outsider’s game. He was the one that got up and explained why we needed health care, why we needed to make this change or hold on to this principle.”

Bipartisan approach

During Monday’s interview, Warren sought to bolster her bipartisan credentials while calling Brown’s into question. She repeatedly cited her experience in Washington as an advocate for financial reform.

Asked to name areas where she would work with Republicans, Warren produced a lengthy list. She said she would work with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa on legislation to protect whistle-blowers and with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine on fishing legislation. Warren added that Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma shares her dislike for corporate welfare while Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee wants to work to reform the government mortgage lenders, just as she does.

“You find agreement and you work out from agreement,” Warren said. “Look I don’t kid myself. I know they have all endorsed Scott Brown. That’s not the issue. You try to reach out.”

At the same time, Warren questioned Brown’s ability to forge bipartisan consensus, saying that he often voices his opinion after an agreement has been made.

“Voting at the last minute, kind of taking the temperature and then coming down here or there, that’s not leadership,” Warren said. “That’s not creating a bipartisan coalition, something that makes something happen. You got to believe in something and you got to be willing to go out and talk about it and be willing to modify where it is necessary to pull together to get people on the inside and the outside.”

Alleigh Marre, spokeswoman for the Brown campaign, challenged Warren’s statement in an email to the Gazette, saying Brown has shown himself as an effective advocate for Hampshire County. The senator wrote letters helping the Plainfield Fire Department secure a new $260,000 vehicle, and aided Soldier On, the nonprofit group serving homeless veterans in Northampton, obtain multiple grants, according to Marre.

Brown also has been a frequent advocate for National Institute of Health and Health and Human Services grants sought by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she said.

Brown also voted for a bipartisan bill that kept interest rates on student loans frozen at 3.4 percent for one year, opposed a $4.5 billion cut to food stamps and sought disaster relief for the region after the tornado that struck Springfield and parts of Hampden County in 2011, Marre said.

“Senator Brown is fighting for the vote of every resident of Hampshire County,” she added. “. . . In Hampshire County, Scott has been a fierce advocate for the Land and Water Conservation funding that protects our natural environment for future generations, for more affordable higher education and greater transparency from colleges on rising tuition costs. He’s stood up to his own party in Washington to bring much-needed natural disaster aid to the region. Senator Brown has been an independent voice that the people of the region can count on. ”

Warren said Brown’s pledge not to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans means there would be no federal funding available for projects such as the high performing computing center in Holyoke and Massbroadband 123, the high-speed internet network designed for undeserved parts of western and central Massachusetts. The network was financed in part by $45.4 million in federal stimulus funding.

“The Republicans are saying you don’t make investments like that. Leave it to the private market, leave it to Verizon to come out here and put in the basic infrastructure that is necessary for small businesses to come to this area, the basic infrastructure that lets start-ups grow, the basic infrastructure people expect in their own homes,” Warren said. “The government is not the employer forever, but yeah in a time of crisis when there is work to be done and people who need work, I’m in favor.”

Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, also defended her plans to trim the deficit. An economic analysis done by the Boston Globe found that Warren’s proposals would to trim the deficit by around $1 trillion over 10 years. Brown’s proposals would cut $614 billion over 10 years, according to the Globe. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that $4.5 trillion to $5 trillion in deficit reduction is needed to stabilize the nation’s finances, the Globe reported.

“I approach it by saying that we have to make some cuts and I identify a bunch of cuts. I say we have to raise some revenue and identify some areas where we raise revenue,” Warren said. Her plan would raise tax rates for millionaires to 30 percent, and let the Bush tax cuts expire for those making more than $250,000.

The savings under Warren’s plan largely come from the United States winding down its military commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Her plan also calls for $100 billion in new infrastructure spending and a 20 percent increase in the amount of federal spending on research. She argued that both will spur economic activity and boost tax revenues.

“What it means is that we can slice more than a trillion off the deficit and make the investments we need to make in our future,” Warren said.

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