Elizabeth Warren, trying to wrest control back from Scott Brown over their debate agenda, today rejected a joint appearance on WBZ radio this week while announcing her acceptance of a second regional TV debate that the incumbent senator has already said he will not attend.
He accused her of trying to “duck” their first meeting.
Warren’s move comes as the Democratic challenger tries to arrange appearances that give her maximum exposure, or else embarrass Brown in the process by forcing the Republican to reject invitations from prominent media and civic organizations in parts of the state that often feel overlooked by politicians.
It also comes after Brown proved accommodating, accepting four televised debates initially sought by Warren, as well as two radio debates. One was to have been Wednesday with WBZ-AM host Dan Rea, while another was on an unspecified future date with WTKK-FM hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan.
The senator rejected a televised debate proposed by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, after she refused to withhold an endorsement in the campaign. Yet Brown said he would appear with Rea, a conservative who openly labels himself Brown’s friend, with or without Warren.
Warren refused until today to answer whether she would accept the radio invitations, while Brown has already declared himself finished with negotiations.
He has already agreed to the most debates by an incumbent Massachusetts senator since Democrat incumbent John Kerry faced off against Republican William F. Weld in 1996 for a series of eight epic debates.
“From the beginning, Elizabeth has made clear her priority is to ensure debates are seen by as wide an audience as possible all across the state. That means televised debates throughout Massachusetts as well as regional forums—many which will be simulcast on radio,” said Warren spokeswoman Alethea Harney.
Noting that the Brown campaign rejected the Warren campaign’s request to negotiate a debate schedule face-to-face, Harney said that Brown had “tried to dictate the locations and terms of debates. His priority is talk radio.”
Harney said: “Elizabeth wants voters to see and hear from both candidates on the issues. We hope Scott Brown reconsiders his stance and joins Elizabeth at these regional forums.”
Brown said he was “disappointed” that Warren had “decided to duck” the first debate.
“By skipping this first debate, Professor Warren is once again saying one thing but doing another,” the senator said in a statement. “I have very important differences with Professor Warren on taxes, spending, and debt – all of which she wants to increase. I plan on showing up at the debate anyway to talk about these issues.”
Earlier in the day, Warren sought to portray herself as guardian of oft-ignored regions of the state, accepting a South Coast debate invitation even after Brown’s pronouncement about being done with negotiations.
The televised debates he and Warren have already accepted cover the Greater Boston and Springfield media markets, and some will be simulcast across the television spectrum.
Nonetheless, Warren has accepted an additional proposed debate in Worcester, and today added one in New Bedford. Brown has already rejected the Worcester debate, pointing to his statement last week that he was finished negotiating.
“The people of Massachusetts share common concerns about the economy, education and keeping our commitments to seniors. But there are also local issues that weigh heavily on residents where the federal government has a role, such as South Coast Rail,” Mindy Myers, Warren’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Elizabeth believes that voters should hear from both candidates on issues close to home in forums close to home. Scott Brown should not turn his back on these voters.”Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.