Mass. Senate hopefuls making final campaign push
BRAINTREE, Mass. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren were joined Sunday on the campaign trail by two former political rivals as they scrapped for votes in the waning hours of Massachusetts’ grueling U.S. Senate race.
Former Republican Gov. William Weld campaigned with Brown at a rally Sunday at Boston’s Faneuil Hall, while Democratic Sen. John Kerry joined Warren at a campaign stop at Braintree High School.
Weld characterized the Brown and Warren race as ‘‘man versus machine,’’ while Kerry said he needed Warren as a partner in the Senate to help push President Obama’s agenda.
Weld recalled being with Brown on the final weekend in 2010 before Brown won the special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy.
‘‘It was man versus machine then and it’s still man versus machine today. The reason that doesn’t change is that the machine never rests, the machine never sleeps,’’ Weld said Sunday. ‘‘All it does is say, ‘I want some more automatic votes for higher taxes.'’’
Brown, speaking to the cheering crowd packed into the historic venue, cast himself as he has throughout the campaign, as an independent voice who puts people over party and weighs each bill to see how it will effect Massachusetts residents before voting.
He also portrayed Warren as a lockstep Democrat who will push for higher taxes and bigger government at a time when the nation is struggling with soaring deficits.
‘‘People are hurting. They want to work,’’ Brown said. ‘‘My answer is to work together, find that common ground, try to push back against the extremes on both sides and actually solve problems.’’
Kerry, speaking later to a packed crowd at a school auditorium in Braintree, whipped up Warren supporters by offering a harsh critique of Mitt Romney and calling the Massachusetts Senate race pivotal for the future of the country.
‘‘We can decide who controls the United States Senate. This race is about that,’’ Kerry said. ‘‘I need a partner in the United States Senate who’s going to stand up and fight for the agenda of Barack Obama.’’
Warren, like Brown, offered a summation of her campaign pledging to be a strong voice for Massachusetts and faulting Brown for holding tax cuts for the middle class hostage to tax cuts for millionaires and for protecting the interests of oil companies.
‘‘Me, I don’t want to go to Washington to work for those guys. They’re doing fine,’’ Warren said. ‘‘I want to go to Washington to work for middle class families. I want to go to Washington to fight for people who want to work.’’
Warren also received a call Sunday from President Barack Obama wishing her luck.
Both candidates stressed the need to get their supporters to the polls on Tuesday.
Warren told her backers to keep working until the very end.
‘‘This isn’t my campaign. This from the very beginning has been our campaign,’’ she said. ‘‘We’re down to the end here. I can’t do this one by myself. I promise you when I go to Washington I'll have your back, but you've got to have my back.’’
Brown echoed that sentiment.
‘‘I'm asking you to go on one final mission,’’ Brown said, urging his backers to cast ballots and to reach out to their friends and neighbors through Facebook, Twitter or by knocking on doors. ‘‘This is all about getting out the vote. I know it. They know it.’’
Brown also called his supporters a ‘‘people’s army defending the people’s seat’’ and said ‘‘if you’re an attorney we need you at the polls to make sure everything’s going to be OK.’’
The race remains tight, a poll released Sunday showed.
The Western New England University Polling Institute survey of 535 likely voters found 50 percent favored Warren, 46 percent backed Brown and 4 percent were undecided.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points and was conducted Oct. 26 through Nov. 1 in partnership with The Republican newspaper of Springfield.
The appearance of Weld and Kerry on the campaign trail brought to mind an earlier contest. The two battled in another high-profile Senate race in 1996 when Weld challenged Kerry for his Senate seat and lost.
Both national parties are keeping a close eye on the Massachusetts election as they battle for control of the Senate.
The race is the costliest in state history. As of mid-October, Brown and Warren had spent a combined $68 million on the race.