Senator Scott Brown opened the first Massachusetts Senate debate with a protracted attack on challenger Elizabeth Warren for her having claimed Cherokee heritage, bringing the issue back into the forefront seven weeks before the election.
“I think what you’re referring to is that Professor Warren claimed she was a Native American, a person of color, and as you can see she’s not,” Brown said in response to a question about character from moderator Jon Keller. “That being said, she checked the box, and she had an opportunity to make a decision thorughout her career when she applied to Penn and Harvard, she checked the box saying she was a Native American, and clearly she’s not.”
Brown then called on Warren to release her personnel records to clear up the matter.
Warren replied by saying she thinks Brown is a “nice guy,” and that “If Senator Brown wants to raise an issue about my character, I’ll lay it out there.” She then gave the explanation she’s been giving for months about the Cherokee issue, saying it’s what she was always told growing up.
The back-and-forth went on for five minutes at the start of the debate — a considerable chunk of time in an hour-long debate.
Brown and Warren spent the rest of the time driving their messages in a repetitious manner; Brown tried to create a narrative around Warren’s philosophy and character, repeatedly calling her “Professor” and referring to her as a “founder of the radical Occupy protest movement,” while Warren attempted to tie Brown to more conservatie Senators like Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe, and to make the national argument that electing her would ensure Democratic control of the Senate.