Class warfare emerged as a dominant theme in the bitter Massachusetts race for Senate this week, with GOP incumbent Sen. Scott Brown and his likely Democratic opponent Elizabeth Warren each posing as an advocate for the common man while trying to link their opponent to wealth and privilege.
After Mrs. Warren blasted him for voting against President Obama’s “Buffett tax” on millionaires on Monday, Mr. Brown pounced when the former Harvard instructor admitted Friday that she hadn’t opted to pay a higher tax rate when she could have.
“Millionaire Warren lectures others about their obligation and responsibility to pay higher taxes, but she refuses to pay the optional higher rate available in Massachusetts,” said Brown spokesman Jim Barnett. “This is the sort of hypocrisy and double-speak voters are sick and tired of hearing from politicians, especially those who can’t keep their hands out of others’ pocketbooks.”
Mr. Brown, who has been riding around the state in his pickup truck and drinking beer with voters, suffered some self-inflicted wounds as well when he ran a series of nostalgic radio ads about Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox — even though local media outlets were quick to point out that he once pushed to relocate the team.
Mrs. Warren didn’t miss a chance to bring that up early Friday when the candidates appeared separately on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” as it was taped at the 100-year-old ballpark.
“He’s kind of got a problem,” she said.
And questions surfaced later in the day about whether the candidates will choose to release their tax returns. Mr. Brown told Boston radio station WTTK-FM that he would probably make public the last five or six years of returns. Mrs. Warren has already said she will release her tax returns if Mr. Brown will.
Each candidate faces complications in the close contest.
While Mrs. Warren has built a national reputation on advocating for consumer protections, her wealth and Harvard tenure leave her open to charges of elitism. Mr. Brown’s personal finances are more modest, but he has collected hefty donations from the financial sector.