Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown has agreed to face his November challenger Elizabeth Warren in a debate moderated by Tom Brokaw — but only if MSNBC isn’t involved and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s widow doesn’t take sides in the election.
Mr. Brown’s tentative response comes a week after Vicki Kennedy invited the two candidates to a September 27 matchup at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, a potential third televised debate in the high-profile race.
Mrs. Warren, a Democrat, immediately accepted the invitation, but Mr. Brown, a Republican, was more hesitant. While the Kennedy Institute is bipartisan, Mrs. Kennedy is an active Democrat. And the broadcaster was to be MSNBC, home to a number of liberal talk-show hosts.
Blasting out a response Monday afternoon, the Brown campaign accepted Mr. Brokaw as moderator but laid out several conditions: Mrs. Kennedy can’t endorse anyone in the race or otherwise get involved; and the debate must be broadcast by local media outlets.
“We need to know that in keeping with the spirit of neutrality expressed in Vicki Kennedy’s letter that she will not endorse or otherwise get involved in this race,” Brown campaign manager Jim Barnett wrote. “Furthermore, while we accept Tom Brokaw as a moderator, we prefer debates with local media sponsors, not out-of-state cable networks with a reputation for political advocacy.”
Mr. Brown and Mrs. Warren are running neck-in-neck in one of the most expensive and scrutinized races in the country, crucial to the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.