LOWELL, Mass. -- During Monday night's Senate debate here, incumbent Republican Scott Brown was asked by NBC's David Gregory to name his model Supreme Court justice. The name that came to his mind may cost him with the state's Democratic voters: Antonin Scalia.
"Let me see here, that's a great question. I think Justice Scalia is a very good judge," Brown said. GOP members of the crowd roared with approval as those on the other side booed just as loudly. Brown's Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, appeared just as happy to hear the answer.
Scalia, an ideologue and GOP partisan, is a political lightning rod who would have helped the Supreme Court overturn health care reform if Chief Justice John Roberts hadn't flipped his vote. Expressing support for Scalia plays directly into the argument Warren has been making against Brown -- that while he may be more moderate than the rest of the Senate GOP, a vote for Brown empowers national Republicans.
Brown seemed to recognize his mistake as his answer continued. "Justice Kennedy. Justice Kennedy
is obviously very good. And Justice Roberts, they're ah, Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor, there's uh, I think they're very qualified people there who actually do a very good job," Brown said.
Gregory challenged him, noting that Sotomayor and Scalia are about as far apart as possible, asking him to just "pick one."
"Listen, I don't need to pick one, we have plenty of justices up there and I'm proud of the ones we have," Brown said.
A beaming Warren said she prefered Elena Kagan.
"Brown announcing that Scalia was his favorite justice shocked me," outgoing Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said after the debate, adding that Brown "obviously realized" he'd made a mistake and tried to backpedal.
Brown said he was unsure he'd support Republican Mitch McConnell for majority leader if the GOP wins control of the Senate in the elections. He made the same assertion in March of this year.
Warren, after the debate, said she was "amazed" that Brown selected Scalia as his favorite justice. Warren's campaign manager, Mindy Myers, said in a statement later that Scalia's opposition to the court's Roe v Wade ruling, women's constitutional rights and birth control "speak loudly about Scott Brown's values."
CORRECTION: An earlier version used the wrong first name for Mindy Myers.