Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
Cloudy
30°
Cloudy
Hi 36° | Lo 19°

Scott Brown, Elizabeth Warren debate in Springfield

  • Senator Scott Brown supporters and challenger Elizabeth Warren's supporters dug in their signs outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Senator Scott Brown supporters and challenger Elizabeth Warren's supporters dug in their signs outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Senator Scott Brown supporters and challenger Elizabeth Warren's supporters dug in their signs outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Senator Scott Brown supporters and challenger Elizabeth Warren's supporters dug in their signs outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Matt O'Connor of South Hadley blows his bagpipe in support of Senator Scott Brown outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Matt O'Connor of South Hadley blows his bagpipe in support of Senator Scott Brown outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kysondra Crawford, 19, of Westfield, shows her support for candidate Elizabeth Warren outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Kysondra Crawford, 19, of Westfield, shows her support for candidate Elizabeth Warren outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elizabeth Warren and husband Bruce Mann wave to supporters inside Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Elizabeth Warren and husband Bruce Mann wave to supporters inside Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Senator Scott Brown answers questions from the media within Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Senator Scott Brown answers questions from the media within Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elizabeth Warren answers questions from the media inside the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Elizabeth Warren answers questions from the media inside the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elizabeth Warren answers questions from the media inside the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Elizabeth Warren answers questions from the media inside the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Senator Scott Brown supporters and challenger Elizabeth Warren's supporters dug in their signs outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Senator Scott Brown supporters and challenger Elizabeth Warren's supporters dug in their signs outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Matt O'Connor of South Hadley blows his bagpipe in support of Senator Scott Brown outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Kysondra Crawford, 19, of Westfield, shows her support for candidate Elizabeth Warren outside of the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday before the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Elizabeth Warren and husband Bruce Mann wave to supporters inside Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Senator Scott Brown answers questions from the media within Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Elizabeth Warren answers questions from the media inside the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Elizabeth Warren answers questions from the media inside the Springfield Symphony Hall Wednesday following the third of four debates in the Massachusetts senatorial race.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

There was no mention of Warren’s claims of Native American heritage —a topic that dominated the previous two debates — and no talk of Brown’s reference to meeting with “kings and queens.”

Instead, Wednesday’s event illustrated two starkly different views of how to restart a struggling economy, curtail health care costs and cut the deficit while preserving money for military installations such as Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield.

Brown entered the night seeking to bolster his bipartisan credentials and undercut Warren’s argument that she is the candidate best placed to fight for the middle class.

When Warren cited her efforts to establish a new consumer protection agency, Brown responded, “I commend your work on that. It would never would have passed if I had not been the deciding vote on financial reform.”

“You’re one of the hired guns that actually went out and got paid hundred and thousands of dollars to fight against the people you’re actually talking about,” he said at another point, citing Warren’s legal work on behalf of Travelers Insurance, LTV Steel and Dow Chemical. In all those instances Warren represented major corporations over the interests of middle class families, he argued.

Warren’s goal for the evening was to make the race a referendum on control of the Senate and tie Brown to national Republicans, whose positions are deeply unpopular in the Bay State.

In answering a question about foreign policy, Warren said, “I just want to say, I’m really glad to support President Obama as commander in chief and I don’t want to see Mitt Romney in that job.”

At another point, Brown claimed the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, would cut around $700 trillion from Medicare.

“That’s the same playbook Mitt Romney used a week ago,” Warren shot back. “It was wrong then, it is wrong now.”

Federal projections estimate that the government will spend $700 trillion less on Medicare because of the ACA. But those savings do not come from a change in benefits, but from wringing more out of providers, according to a Washington Post fact check.

But perhaps Warren’s best moment came in an exchange over women’s rights. Brown noted he is pro-choice and said that while he supports equal pay for equal work, he voted against one such proposal because the bill was poorly crafted.

Warren responded by noting that Brown voted against insurance coverage for birth control, equal pay for equal work and a pro-choice Supreme Court nominee from Massachusetts, Elena Kagan, in the sole instances that each matter came before the Senate.

“Those are bad votes for women. The women of Massachusetts need a senator they can count on, not some of the time, but all of the time,” she said.

Later she added, “He has a lot of excuses for standing on the other side, but when it came down to the critical votes he was not there for Massachusetts women.”

A large American flag served as the backdrop to the two candidates, with Brown and Warren standing at two oak podiums before moderator Jim Madigan of WGBY.

The candidates’ first exchange was over jobs. Warren charged Brown with voting against three jobs bills supported by Obama. The bills would have supported 22,000 jobs in the state and prevented layoffs to teachers, firefighters and policeman she said. Brown didn’t vote for the measures.

“And why, because it would have meant an increase in taxes, not for most people, but for those making a million dollars or more,” Warren said.

Brown countered by saying, “But when you put a title on a bill in Washington that says job bills, you have to read the bill, you have to see how they will affect everybody else.”

The bills would have raised taxes on the private sector, Brown said, arguing that businesses can ill afford a tax increase at a time when the economy is suffering.

“The one thing we can’t be doing right now, in the middle of this 3 ½ -year recession, is taking more money out of people’s hard-working pocketbooks and wallets and giving it to the federal government,” Brown said. “They’re like pigs in a trough up there. They just take and take and take and take.”

When the subject turned to health care, Brown said he supported efforts to institute universal coverage in Massachusetts as a state senator. The Bay State reform could serve as a model for other states, he added.

But in his view, the federal government is wrong to direct states how to approach health care.

“The federal bill, which my opponent supports and I don’t, raises taxes,” Brown said.

Warren said health care reform will strengthen Medicare, provide insurance to students and drive down costs.

“What Senator Brown is in favor of is getting rid of a bill that helps seniors pay for prescription drugs,” Warren said.

Warren said she favors reducing the size of the military now that the country’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq is winding down.

“They are just not serious about cutting the deficit,” Warren said of Republicans. “We need to use this opportunity to think about the military we need in the 21st century.”

Brown said the cuts proposed by Warren would adversely impact the armed services. “You can’t have it both ways,” Brown said of Warren’s pledge to support the military while reducing its size.

Symphony Hall was filled with 2,600 people, including Congressmen Richard Neal and John Olver and other area politicians.

The scene outside

Before the debate began, supporters of both candidates gathered outside Symphony Hall. There were the “Bagpipers for Brown” and an IAFF Fire Fighters bus adorned with Warren’s face.

There was barely an inch of free space on Court Street. Brown and Warren entered the debate in a race which polls show is a statistical tie.

In the hours leading up to the debate, the contest played out on the sidewalks outside Symphony Hall.

Matt O’Connor of South Hadley stood outside playing the bagpipes with his friend Dave Kern of East Longmeadow. Both wore “Bagpipers for Brown” signs and a kilt.

“I like the fact he is a veteran,” O’Connor said, describing Brown. “He doesn’t vote for the party, he votes for the people.”

A little way down the street, Patty Healey of Northampton and Elizabeth Maynard of Amherst stood on the sidewalk holding signs for Warren.

“I was impressed with her development of the consumer protection agency,” Healey said. “I think she is going to get things done.”

“I think she understands more than Scott Brown what underrepresented people are going through,” said Maynard, who listed Wall Street reform, paycheck fairness for women and health care as the issues she cares about. “You don’t have think about those issues if you’re mega-rich.”

But Amanda Scungio of Wilbraham took a different view. She is interning for Brown’s Senate campaign this fall.

“I like him. I like what he stands for,” Scungio said. “How he views education, the economy, women’s rights.”

Legacy Comments0
There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.