Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren campaigned today with activist Sandra Fluke. (Eric Moskowitz/Globe Staff) [[SLIDE]]
SOMERVILLE – Elizabeth Warren and Senator Scott Brown both accepted endorsements this morning as they tried to underscore appeals to key swing voters.
Warren, in her Somerville headquarters, was joined by women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke in an effort to underscore her case that Brown has been an unreliable vote for women on abortion rights, access to contraception, and equal pay.
Brown stood by members of the State Police Association of Massachusetts to make the case that Warren’s support for President Obama’s health care law could mean higher taxes for some union workers who have premium health plans and that her opposition to the Secure Communities program could undermine public safety.
Warren reiterated a frequent talking point to criticize Brown.
“I have no doubt that Scott Brown is a good husband, I have no doubt that he is a good father, but when he goes to the United States Senate he votes on issues that affect all women and all men across this country, and when he does that he’s not working all of the time for us,” Warren said.
Brown and Warren released competing ads last week about which of them is a better advocate for women. Brown frequently campaigns with his wife, Gail Huff, and describes the lessons he learned in a “house full of women.”
Fluke, the recent Georgetown Law graduate who was barred by House Republicans last February from testifying at a hearing on access to contraception, became a national figure after Rush Limbaugh labeled her a “slut” and a “prostitute” for supporting a requirement for health insurers to cover contraception. Introducing Warren, she called a vote for Brown a vote for a Republican majority, and she focused particular attention on what she called his “radical vote” to support the Blunt Amendment.
“It allows an employer of any type – fast food restaurant, any kind of business – to deny employees access to health care on their insurance plan, including things like contraception and breast cancer screenings, but it’s bigger than that, because this allows any employer to deny any kind of health care for any reason,” Fluke said.
Brown has said his support for the amendment came from a desire to protect the religious rights of Catholics.
Huff said this morning that she made the ad because “I feel very strongly that women need to understand that this is a scare tactic.”
Brown also released a statement from Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who is backing him.
“As a fellow pro-choice moderate, I have worked closely with Senator Scott Brown and know that he is a tireless advocate for women’s rights,” she said. “Scott Brown is a strong proponent of family planning programs and of measures to promote and protect women’s health. We worked together to pass the Violence Against Women Act, fought to prevent proposed cuts to Planned Parenthood, and voted to help ensure our female servicemembers who have been raped receive the care they need in military hospitals.”
Brown also zeroed in on another aspect of the president’s health care plan, which Warren supports and he opposes. He said the tax on so-called “high-cost health plans” included in the bill would hurt many of the union workers whose support Warren is counting on. Citing a Pioneer Institute study, he said it would cost those affected an average of more than $53,000 over a 10-year period.
“She supports a federal health care bill that will increase with an excise tax on union insurance policies, affecting many police officers, such as the ones that are standing behind me, police officers, teachers, fire fighters,” Brown said. “That’s something that our union workers – police, fire, teachers, etc., cannot afford.”
The Warren campaign said the study cited by Brown is incorrect and noted that the authors have ties to Brown and other Republicans. The Warren campaign pointed to competing studies that said the bill would drive premiums down, rather than raise taxes.