Mass. Senate hopefuls Warren, Brown trade barbs
WATERTOWN, Mass. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown hit the campaign trail with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday, casting himself as a bipartisan pragmatist as he was again forced to distance himself from comments made by a fellow Republican Senate candidate.
At a campaign stop at a restaurant in Watertown, Christie praised Brown as a problem-solver and called challenger Elizabeth Warren a member of the ‘‘partisan liberal Democratic elite’’ who will feed the nation’s political divisiveness.
‘‘If that’s the kind of Washington you want then you've got the perfect choice on the ballot. You should vote for Professor Warren,’’ said Christie, also a Republican. ‘‘She won’t even look across the aisle, let alone reach across the aisle.’’
Brown said he was honored to have Christie’s support.
But Brown also found himself forced to react to comments made by Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who said during a Tuesday night debate that he believes when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape, ‘‘that’s something God intended.’’
‘‘It’s not what I believe,’’ Brown said. ‘‘I am a pro-choice Republican and that’s not what I believe and I disagree with what he said.’’
Asked if he still supported Mourdock’s candidacy, Brown added: ‘‘Listen, it’s up to the people of Indiana, certainly.’’
Mourdock’s comment recalled Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin’s remark this summer about rape and pregnancy. Akin said in an August interview that women’s bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of ‘‘legitimate rape.’’
Brown called Akin’s comments ‘‘outrageous, inappropriate and wrong’’ at the time and said he should resign as the party’s Senate nominee.
Warren called Mourdock’s comments ‘‘a chilling reminder of the voices that will be empowered if Republicans take over the United States Senate’’ during a campaign stop at a bookstore in Dedham.
‘‘Sen. Brown is working to empower the voices of people like Mr. Mourdock,’’ she added.
Mourdock on Wednesday stood by his statement but added that some people had twisted its meaning. He said he abhors any kind of violence.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party said in a statement that Brown and Mourdock have both served on a committee that helps raise money to elect Republican candidates.
The sparring came as Brown released a new television ad saying Warren supports $716 billion in cuts to Medicare. The ad says that Warren would ‘‘raid Medicare.’’
Brown has argued that the cuts include $14 billion in Medicare reductions to Massachusetts health care providers and nursing homes over the next decade.
‘‘Hospitals, doctors and nurses will see their payments cut, and that will mean less choice and less access to services that seniors need,’’ Brown said in a fundraising email.
Warren said the cuts won’t harm Medicare benefits and instead target waste, abuse and subsidies to insurance companies. She said the cuts will also extend the life of the Medicare program, adding that Brown’s argument has been debunked by independent analysts, including the AARP, a senior lobbying group.
Warren said Brown is ‘‘taking a page out of the same playbook’’ as Mitt Romney.
‘‘So why would the Republicans be doing this?’’ she said. ‘‘It’s because if they can get in the majority, they want to turn Medicare into a voucher system. They want to end Medicare as we know it.’’
In a separate radio ad, Brown has said he opposes any Medicare changes that would affect today’s seniors or those nearing retirement and said any ‘‘reform plan must be bipartisan.’’
Warren also had a big name coming to town. Singer-songwriter James Taylor performed in Boston to support Warren’s campaign Wednesday night.
The Massachusetts race is already the most expensive in state history and the costliest Senate race in the country this year. Both national parties are keeping a close eye on the contest as they wrestle for control of the Senate.