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Seeking Senate Race Boost, Warren Targets Romney

Seeking Senate Race Boost, Warren Targets Romney

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - June 27, 2012


Elizabeth Warren appears to have found her populist voice again. After weeks of being buffeted by a controversy over whether she improperly claimed Native American heritage, the Democratic Senate hopeful in Massachusetts introduced President Obama on Monday with a blistering barrage against Mitt Romney.

Changing the political conversation from her own missteps to the presumptive GOP nominee’s infamous comment about corporations being people, Warren cheerfully took aim at him as she introduced the president. “No, Mitt, corporations are not people,” she said at a campaign fundraiser in Boston. “People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They love and they cry and they dance. Learn the difference.”

A former Obama administration official, the woman who Bay State Democrats hope will unseat Republican freshman Sen. Scott Brown demonstrated that she is an effective carrier of the president’s message.

Obama probably doesn’t need Warren to help him win Massachusetts -- he expects to take the solidly blue commonwealth handily on his own -- but her cameo did provide an opportunity to remind Democrats in Romney’s home state why they tapped her to try and recover Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat in the first place.

This speech, her supporters hope, marks something of a turning point in her campaign.

Warren is running neck-and-neck with Brown in one of the most country’s watched races -- one that could determine the balance of power in the Senate. A survey released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling (D) found the pair tied at 46 percent, with Brown gaining ground since the last two polls. To defeat the incumbent, Warren needs to dampen his blue-collar appeal to moderate and conservative Democrats; tying Brown to the Republican presidential nominee is a key part of that strategy.

“This election will be about whose side you stand on,” she said. “We know where President Obama stands: He stands for working people. It’s just as clear where Mitt Romney stands.” While Warren didn’t mention Brown by name, this line of attack mirrors the one she has been using in her Senate race. Painting herself and Obama as aligned with Main Street and Romney and Brown as tied to Wall Street is most effective in this type of contest, Democrats say.

“The more people identify Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama as standing for the same things, fighting for the same things, the better Elizabeth Warren is going to do,” says Mary Anne Marsh, a Boston-based Democratic strategist. Marsh advised that Warren’s campaign could cut two different television advertisements from Monday evening’s event: one of her attacking Romney and, by extension, Brown; and another of the president praising her.

Obama hugged Warren and kissed her cheek after taking the stage, which will serve as good optics for her campaign. He described her as the hardest fighter for Wall Street reform and noted her role in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- an agency established by the financial reform bill, for which Brown voted. “She has been a fierce advocate since before I knew her for the middle class,” Obama said. “She is going to be an outstanding senator from Massachusetts, and everybody here has got to turn out for her.”

Turnout among the party base shouldn’t be a problem, given that this is a presidential election year. But she does need to aggressively court the rest of those under the Democratic tent, as well as independents. “An important wing of the Democratic Party really loves the fact that she’s a crusading, progressive Harvard professor,” says John Berg, a political science professor at Boston’s Suffolk University. “But there’s another whole wing of people who are more moderate in their views, and that doesn’t necessarily excite them. She has got to make it clear she is going to work for them too.”

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Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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