CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With two months until Election Day, Democrats are eager to take the Massachusetts Senate race directly to Scott Brown by highlighting how consistently the Republican senator votes with his party, according to top Democratic officials.
The GOP is so poorly thought of in Massachusetts that Elizabeth Warren's campaign routinely refers to its opponent as "Republican Scott Brown," just as Brown only talks about "Professor Warren."
But beyond that gentle chiding, the Massachusetts Senate race has been remarkably tame, relative to the typical campaign this electoral cycle. Neither candidate wants to be accused of being the first to go negative, although Democrats in and out of Massachusetts have been urging Warren to ratchet up the criticism of Brown.
"There's this push to focus on his voting record, but I think that's going to happen in the next 60 days," Warren told HuffPost in Charlotte on Tuesday. "I think Scott Brown's voting record is important for the voters of Massachusetts to see."
Brown isn't waiting for Warren. On Tuesday, his campaign launched a website called TheRealWarren.com to cut down his Democratic opponent, complete with the obligatory unflattering photo. The press release accompanying the website describes Warren as a "hypocrite," a "fake Indian" and an "Occupy founder" with a "pitiful record" on transparency.
"The Real Warren website speaks for itself. It is comprised exclusively of Professor Warren's own words, her own proposals and the press coverage she has received. Most candidates would kill for this kind of free publicity," said Brown spokeswoman Alleigh Marre.
Meanwhile, the group ProgressMass, which aims to promote progressive values, has tallied Brown's press statements and found them to be overwhelmingly negative.
The Warren campaign believes that if the battle can be fought over policy -- jobs, Wall Street accountability, women's rights, environmental protection, tax cuts for the rich -- Brown will falter. Of course, running a campaign on real issues has always been a tall order in American politics.
Guy Cecil, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said that the race has been positive so far, but once the campaigns begin airing ads contrasting their positions, Warren will pull ahead.
"There hasn't been one negative ad run so far. It's been positive messaging on both sides, and I think as you see comparative ads run on both sides, you'll see us talk a lot more about Scott Brown and his record," he told a group of reporters in Charlotte Tuesday.
"He is still out of step with Massachusetts. He still votes against [senior Massachusetts Sen.] John Kerry 75 percent of the time. On every major tax issue, when you look at the middle class vs. the wealthiest, Scott Brown has made it very clear who he sides with. And as you see us draw that contrast, you'll see her close this out," Cecil said.
Warren currently trails by 4 percentage points, according to HuffPost Pollster's averaging of recent surveys. She is scheduled to speak just before President Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday evening.
Brown, for his part, has said that he doesn't want Warren to discuss his voting record.
"I don't need Professor Warren talking or speaking or commenting on my votes," Brown declared in August, adding that she shouldn't be "distorting and misleading the voters about where I stand on issues."
Warren said she was surprised to hear him say that. "I thought at the time, 'Oh, surely he misspoke, because everyone who holds office understands that the voting record is how the people judge whether you've been on their side. So the next day he comes back and does it again, and says, 'Oh, those votes were months ago.'"
So far, Warren's ads have largely shown her speaking directly to the camera about issues she hopes to address in the Senate.
"I got in this race because I feel the urgency of this moment and because there are issues we need to talk about ... and any chance to talk about those issues makes me feel good about being in this race. I know I'm in this race to win. I will fight as hard as I can, but I'll say something: Every time I put an ad up that talks about what's happening to college students, to women, that talks about accountability on Wall Street, I feel good about it. I feel good about putting those issues out there for the voters of Massachusetts to see," she said Tuesday.
But, Warren added, it's also important to spotlight Brown's record. "It's not a question of negative or positive. It's just [that] the voters should see how he votes," she said.
Amanda Terkel contributed to this report.
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The UK bank has been at the centre of a very public storm since U.S. and British authorities fined it more than $450 million last month for its part in manipulating Libor. The ensuing backlash cost chief executive Bob Diamond and chairman Marcus Agius their jobs. The pair have appeared before a parliamentary committee to testify about what went on at the bank, in a scandal which has drawn in British central bankers and government ministers.
BANK OF AMERICA
Bank of America is among the banks being investigated, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters last year. The bank did not comment in its 2011 annual report. It is one of 11 banks accused of conspiring to manipulate Libor in two lawsuits filed by discount brokerage and money manager Charles Schwab.
The Swiss Competition Commission said in February that Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ was among those it was investigating on suspicion of conspiring to manipulate rates. The Japanese bank did not comment on any probes in its 2011 annual report. This month, the group suspended two London-based traders as a result of a probe into manipulating interbank lending rates, but the bank said that was not to do with their conduct at BTMU. They had previously worked at Dutch lender Rabobank.
Citigroup said its subsidiaries had received requests for information and documents as part of investigations in various jurisdictions. The U.S. bank said it was cooperating. The bank is also subject to a number of private lawsuits filed in the U.S. against banks that served on the Libor panel. In December, Japan's financial regulator said it would penalise the Japan securities units of Citigroup and UBS after finding that an individual who worked at UBS and then moved to Citi had, along with his boss at Citi, attempted to influence the Tokyo interbank offered rate (Tibor).
Credit Suisse is one of 12 banks being investigated by the Swiss Competition Commission about alleged collusive behaviour among traders to influence the bid ask spread for derivatives tied to Libor and Tibor as well as the rates themselves. Credit Suisse said it was cooperating fully.
The German bank said it was cooperating with investigations in the United States and Europe in connection with setting rates between 2005 and 2011. It has had civil actions filed against it in the United States related to the setting of Libor. Germany's market regulator has launched a probe into the bank over suspected manipulation of interbank lending rates, sources have said. Results are expected in mid-July. German magazine Der Spiegel reported, citing no sources, that two Deutsche Bank employees have been suspended after external auditors examined whether staff were involved in manipulating rates.
Lloyds said it was cooperating with investigations. It has also been named in private lawsuits in the U.S. related to the setting of Libor. It said it 2011 annual report that it could not predict the ultimate outcome of investigations or lawsuits. In May, the bank said two derivatives traders had been suspended following an investigation into possible interest rate manipulation.
HSBC has said it received demands from regulators for information in connection with Libor investigations and it was cooperating. It has also been named in lawsuits related to Libor in the United States. HSBC said in its 2011 annual report that it could not predict the outcome of the investigations and lawsuits.
The bank, now a subsidiary of Lloyds, said it was cooperating with investigations. It has also been named in private U.S. lawsuits related to the setting of Libor. HBOS said it in its 2011 annual report it was not possible to predict the scope, outcome or impact of the investigations and lawsuits.
JPMorgan said it was cooperating with regulators and government bodies investigating the setting of Libor, Euribor and Tibor rates, mainly in 2007 and 2008. It has also been named as a defendant in private U.S. lawsuits over Libor.
Rabobank said it was cooperating with investigations into possible manipulation of Libor rates. It has also been named as a defendant in a number of civil lawsuits in the United States. Rabobank said it was confident the claims would be held unfounded and was conducting its defence as such.
Canada's largest bank did not make any comment in its 2011 annual report on its involvement in regulatory probes into possible manipulation of interbank lending rates.
Royal Bank of Scotland said it was cooperating with investigators, who had requested information. RBS said members of its group had been named as defendants in a number of lawsuits in the United States. The bank said it had substantial defences to these claims. Following a newspaper report last month that it faced a 150 million pound fine, RBS said there could not be any certainty as to the timing or amount of any fine or settlement.
The Swiss bank said it had been granted leniency or immunity from potential violations by some authorities, including the U.S. Justice Department and Swiss Competition Commission, in return for its cooperation in the Libor manipulation probe. It did not specify what information it was providing. In December, Japan's financial regulator said it would penalise the Japan securities units of Citigroup and UBS after finding that an individual who worked at UBS and then moved to Citi had attempted to influence Tibor. It has also been the subject of U.S. lawsuits.
The German bank was among those being investigated, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters in March last year. The bank made no mention of the probes in its 2011 annual report. In July last year it was dropped, at its request, from the panel of banks contributing to daily fixings of Libor for U.S. dollars.
The Japanese bank did not mention the investigations into possible Libor manipulation in its 2011 annual report. In April last year it was one of 12 banks sued by Vienna-based asset manager FTC Capital, accused of conspiring to manipulate Libor.