In the tight Massachusetts Senate race, GOP incumbent Scott Brown has spent weeks questioning Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren’s claim of Native American heritage, while Warren portrays Brown as a darling of Wall Street.
The rhetoric is constant, sometimes caustic and all but invisible from the ad campaign waged on television.
That’s because Brown and Warren signed a deal to discourage third party groups from running television, radio and online ads in Massachusetts. At this point, at least, their pleas seem to have been heard and two are leading by example.
In his TV ads, Brown shows himself as a cheerful bipartisan lawmaker, doting father and supportive husband. No mention is made of the issue that’s become the near sole focus of his campaign: Warren’s flummoxed handling of questions about her heritage.
Warren also has run a tougher campaign off-screen than on.
At campaign stops, she routinely refers to Brown as “Wall Street’s favorite senator,” a phrase that’s absent from her TV ads, which aim to portray her as a fighter for the middle class.
The race is one of the country’s most competitive as Democrats look to take back the seat long held by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy until Brown shocked the political world by winning it in 2010. Democrats hold a slight edge in the Senate and they see Massachusetts as their top chance to pick up a Republican-held seat to offset any losses they may incur elsewhere.
Yet, so far, Massachusetts voters have been spared the kind of corrosive ads that have flooded the airwaves in Nevada Virginia and other states with hotly contested Senate contests.
Brown and Warren can’t stop outside groups from getting involved. But less than five months before the election, it seems those groups are taking the candidates’ wishes to heart. If the groups stay on the sidelines, the candidates would have to use their own ads to attack each other, should they decide to go that route.
That poses a particular risk for Brown, who has tailored a good guy image in his ads. The most recent features his wife, former Boston
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