Republican Scott Brown’s two daughters this afternoon called on their father’s Democratic rival, Martha Coakley, to take down a television ad that highlights an amendment that Brown filed in 2005 that in certain cases would have allowed doctors to deny emergency contraception for rape victims.
Ayla and Arianna Brown (AP)
“Martha Coakley’s new negative ad represents everything that discourages young women from getting involved in politics,” Ayla Brown, 21, told reporters at the Omni Parker House Hotel in downtown Boston. “And as a young woman, I’m completely offended by that. Her attack on my dad is completely inaccurate and misleading and, once again, I’m offended. My dad would always stand up for the rights and needs of rape victims. And he’s kind, understanding, and he’s a very compassionate father.”
Scott Brown was not at the event, sending his daughters instead as his chief surrogates. Ayla Brown -- who is no stranger to public appearances as a former "American Idol" contestant and a Boston College basketball player -- and her sister, Arianna, were joined by about a dozen other women who are supporting Scott Brown's campaign.
The dispute is over a 2005 amendment that Scott Brown sponsored in the state Senate. The amendment would have allowed a doctor, nurse or hospital to deny rape victims an emergency contraceptive if it “conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief.”
The amendment, which did not pass, was attached to a bill that he ultimately voted for, which required emergency rooms to provide the contraceptives to rape victims.
In Coakley’s latest ad, released after a heated debate Monday night, a narrator says, “Brown even favors letting hospitals deny emergency contraception to rape victims.”
Brown and his supporters have declined to discuss the underpinnings of his amendment, instead trying to focus on the fact that he supported the overall legislation.
"This is the message: The message is that Scott Brown was behind that legislation and voted for it in 2005,” Angela Davis, co-chair of “Women for Brown,” said this afternoon. “This
is desperation, and it’s disgusting, and she needs to take down the ad."
The Brown campaign news conference came after a group of women supporting Coakley bitterly railed this morning against Brown, questioning his views on reproductive rights, saying his political positions were dangerous for women, and that he was using "smoke and mirrors" to obscure his true beliefs and previous record.
"Time and again, Scott Brown has shown that he is willing to compromise, for political gain, the health and well-being of some of the most vulnerable women in Massachusetts," said Andrea Miller, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. "And this includes victims of sexual assault."
The Coakley ad, which also accused Brown of resisting tougher Wall street oversight and favoring Bush-era tax cuts that favored the wealthy, was already drawing comment and ridicule today from Republicans because it included a misspelling of the name of the state. The ad says it was "Paid for by the Massachusettes Democratic Party and authorized by Martha Coakley for Senate."
Brown, a state senator from Wrentham who had never run a statewide race but whose campaign is gaining national attention, also released a television spot today blasting Coakley for ducking issues and going on the attack.
"By now, you've probably seen the negative ads launched by Martha Coakley and her supporters," Brown says as he stands in a kitchen during the 30-second ad. "Instead of discussing issues like health care and jobs, they decided the best way to stop me is to tear me down."
In Brown's ad, the camera lingers on a photograph of Coakley with two fellow Democrats: Governor Deval Patrick, who has struggled in recent public opinion polls; and former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who is fighting federal corruption charges.
"The old way of doing things won’t work anymore," Brown says in the ad. "Their attack ads are wrong and go too far."
Brown looks into the camera and says, "I'm running in the name of every independent-thinking voter to take on the political machine and their candidate. And with your help, I intend to win."
With the special election to fill the Massachusetts Senate just a week away and the race gaining national attention because of its possible impact on the health care debate in Washington, Brown's campaign also said he had raised more than $1.3 million in the past 24 hours.
But Coakley's campaign issued a statement saying the figures were "the latest example of the national right wing money that is being funneled into his campaign."
"Extremist right wing groups associated with his campaign have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on misleading, negative attacks against Martha Coakley," the campaign said in a statement, calling Brown a "lockstep Republican vote to return us back to the same failed policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney.”
The special election is on Jan. 19. The seat came open after the death of legendary liberal Edward M. Kennedy, who had held the position for 47 years. A third candidate, Joseph L. Kennedy, who is not related to the legendary Kennedy political family, is running as an independent.
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