Your faithful blogger is just back from a week-long college tour in New England, where I had a front row seat to the Massachusetts Senate race. Elizabeth Warren's campaign, which has outraised Sen. Scott Brown's campaign $24 million to $12 million since last July, is spending its money on advertising saturating the New England market. ( The Boston Herald is reporting that the majority of Warren's money is from out of state; two thirds of Brown donors are in state.) She's got a let's-get-people-back-to-work ad that is running around the clock, pretty much alternating with that very negative President Obama ad that features former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney singing the national anthem.
Two months ago, Warren was embroiled in the controversy surrounding her claims of Native American heritage; it seems she's wisely trying to pivot to economic issues. The Brown campaign has a new ad featuring the former long-time mayor of Boston and ambassador to the Vatican, Democrat Ray Flynn. Both campaigns signed a "People's Pledge" to deter ads run by outside groups, and this one abides by the rules. According to MassLive.com:
Reportedly speaking from his South Boston home without a script, Flynn says that Brown is someone he admires and trusts, regardless of his party affiliation.
"I'm a Democrat but I'm tired of all the polarization, the pettiness, the bickering. Scott Brown is a person that you can work with," Flynn said in the ad. "I mean, I've been involved in politics for almost 50 years. That's the name of the game – electing people you can trust. I think that person really is Scott Brown."
If Scott Brown is trying to convince a heavily Democratic, heavily Catholic state loaded with independent voters to support him, getting Ray Flynn to endorse Brown would be the next best thing to getting Tip O'Neill's endorsement. It's huge. The ad is getting a fair amount of play so I've seen it, and it's very effective. The same week that the ad was unveiled, Mayor Bloomberg of New York endorsed Brown as well.
But what's getting even more attention is this Brown ad running on YouTube. It went up on July 27 and it's already had over a million views. The voices and images of former presidents of both parties are shown praising the hard work of business owners in creating the American Dream and with it, jobs and prosperity for all Americans.
Then the full context of President Obama's "you didn't build that" remarks are shown, where he denigrates the idea that success comes from working hard or being smart. That's followed by Elizabeth Warren literally pointing fingers at a campaign rally: "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. If you built a factory out there, good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for." Their insulting tone and dismissiveness are remarkable. The ad ends with Scott Brown addressing business owners: "When you do well, everyone else does well. I will never demonize you as business leaders ... we should not be blaming you, we should be thanking you." No wonder the ad has gone viral.
The Democratic National Committee recently announced that, despite a petition-writing campaign to make her the keynote speaker at the Charlotte convention, Elizabeth Warren will be speaking in advance of Bill Clinton, who will give the keynote. Warren and Clinton's views on economic growth and free enterprise couldn't be more different; neither could their tone and demeanor. Don't be surprised if Scott Brown is given a prominent role at the Republican convention—just so he can point that out.
In a lot of ways, this is a campaign about two different cultures in Massachusetts. It's the happy-warrior Boston College law grad against the lecturing Harvard Law professor; it's the street-wise Catholic mayor from his Southie home against the big money from the DNC. Scott Brown was raised in Massachusetts and worked his way up through the state house and senate; Warren was born in Oklahoma, worked in the Obama White House, and has never held elected office. They're neck-and-neck in the polls, but I'd say right now, the momentum is with Brown. There's a good chance B.C. might beat Harvard.
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