Senator Scott Brown and challenger Elizabeth Warren highlighted their small business approaches today, appearing at two such operations just two miles apart and a half-hour after one another.
Stopping at Auto Service & Tire in Mattapan, Brown said he planned to use his four debates with Warren – the first of them on Thursday – to contrast his pro-business policies with her “radical, Occupy Wall Street” mentality.
And despite being a veteran politician and member of what has been dubbed “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the senator cast himself as the underdog in the debates.
“She’s representing Harvard now, has been there teaching, lecturing, and debating at Harvard. She went to college on a debating scholarship, so I’m going to have my hands full,” Brown told reporters. “But I am going to work hard, as I always do, and make sure I can tell people the very clear differences about who we are and what we stand for.”
During a stop at Cedar Grove Gardens in Dorchester, Warren announced the formation of a “Small Business for Elizabeth” group.
“Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy. I am proud to stand with small business owners across the Commonwealth to fight for a level playing field,” Warren said in statement after her visit. “Right now, Washington is rigged to work for the big guys who can hire an army of lawyers and lobbyists. I want to go to Washington to make sure our small businesses here in Massachusetts have a real shot at success.”
In aiming to define his differences with Warren, Brown repeatedly used the term “radical” to describe his Democratic challenger, equally as often noting today is the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The Republican seized on Warren’s boast in a magazine interview last year that she “created much of the intellectual foundation” for the anti-Wall Street, pro-Main Street movement that spread across the country and sparked violence in some cities, though not Boston.
“That type of mentality, the ‘you-didn’t-built-it’ mentality, people don’t want that,” Brown said. “They want to recognize the individual successes of individuals and businesses to create jobs.”
He added: “Whatever we do, by the way, it needs to be done together, and I have a record of that, being named the least-partisan senator in the US Senate versus somebody who’s going to be the most partisan.”
Brown’s staff often references a 2011 Congressional Quarterly study that named him the second-most bipartisan senator, after fellow Republican Susan Collins of Maine.
Warren complained about Brown’s declaration last week that he would vote against a bill extending Bush-era tax cuts—but only for those earning under $250,000 annually. Brown has said he favors extending the tax cuts for all earners, arguing that upper-income workers are often job creators.
The Warren campaign statement complained “he would hold tax cuts for 97 percent of small business hostage if the wealthiest corporations did not receive an even bigger tax break.”
State Senator Daniel Wolf, a Democrat and founder of Cape Air, is among the co-chairmen of Warren’s small business group.
In the statement, Wolf said of Warren: “She understands the profound difference between a business on Main Street, with all of its community connections and roots, and a corporation on Wall Street. Elizabeth Warren will work hard to support those businesses on Main Street while keeping a watchful eye on Wall Street corporations.”
In speaking with reporters, Brown tried to preempt questions about two new polls showing Warren pulling slightly ahead in a race that has often been within the margin of error all year.
“You’re going to see polls up and down,” he said. “As I’ve said from the beginning, this is going to be a close race, but it’s going to be a race about choices.”
He spoke after dropping off Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and doughnuts to mechanics at Auto Service & Tire. The visit was announced just this morning, and was scheduled a half-hour before Warren’s own stop at the garden center. That visit was publicly announced on Sunday.
Brown ate a glazed doughnut before touring Auto Service and answering questions about his famed green pickup truck, which he drove into the garage.
He turned on the ignition briefly to pronounce its current mileage – nearly 240,000 – and said he just had its oil changed and new tires installed. He also revealed that his wife, former Boston TV reporter Gail Huff, had it detailed for him as a present for his birthday last week.
“First time in about a year it doesn’t smell like a locker room,” he said with a laugh.
The senator also revealed that earlier in the day, the cab served as a bedroom, after he had to get up early to drop one of his daughters at the airport.
“I just pulled into the Shaw’s (supermarket) and, you know, crashed in it a couple hours. So, it’s still comfortable,” he said.Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.