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Elizabeth Warren: Scott Brown's Voting Record Is Fair Game

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Elizabeth Warren talks during a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on July 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Elizabeth Warren talks during a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on July 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

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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