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Warren ad is first to go on attack in campaign

Warren Campaign

Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, in a further retooling of her campaign advertising, is throwing a punch at her Republican rival, Senator Scott Brown, using the trainer of Lowell boxer Micky Ward to accuse him of “siding with the big money guys’’ and large corporations.

The 30-second ad, which will begin airing Friday across the state, is set in the West End Gym in a blue-collar neighborhood of Lowell and features Ward’s trainer Art Ramalho, who says Brown’s political positions work against the interest of working people.

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“We can spot the real fighters here in this gym,” Ramalho says as young boxers jump rope and spar in the background in his gym.

“Elizabeth Warren is a real fighter,” he says. “I don’t know about Scott Brown. He’s been siding with the big-money guys.”

Warren’s new commercial is a sharp departure in the campaign ad wars. The spot is the first of ­either campaign to go ­after the other candidate.

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Shortly after the ad was released Thursday, Brown charged that Warren was leveling untrue accusations against him and degrading the campaign.

“It’s unfortunate that instead of running a campaign that lifts people up, Elizabeth Warren has ­decided to run a campaign that tears people down,’’ Brown said. “Her misleading and untrue attacks against me are a sign of desperation from an increasingly desperate and flailing campaign. The people of Massachusetts deserve and expect better, especially from a first-time candidate who initially claimed not to like attack ads.’’

Still, the senator has leveled strong attacks against Warren in recent days. A website his campaign created last week sharply questions Warren’s integrity and credibility. It describes her as a “fake Indian’’ who rants against the free enterprise system, with “an insatiable appetite for higher taxes and more debt.’’ The website includes seven sections, each with tough attacks on Warren.

In a response to Brown’s complaint about the ad, the Warren campaign insisted that Brown initiated the attacks.

“Scott Brown has spent months launching personal attacks against Elizabeth Warren,’’ said her spokesman Kyle Sullivan. “This new ad simply presents information about what Scott Brown has tried to avoid, his voting record.’’

While the new Warren ad is a direct hit at Brown, it does not contain the usual features and images associated with most negative attack ads. There are no dark or grainy images of Brown. In fact, his ­image does not appear in the ad. The criticism that Ramalho levels against Brown reflects what ­Warren has been saying on the campaign trail.

Until now Brown’s television ads have reinforced his image as a likable Massachusetts-rooted political figure. They show him getting strong words of support from a well-known recipient of the Medal of Honor, driving his pickup truck, and rubbing shoulders with embattled Massachusetts fisherman.

Warren has been under pressure from Democratic leaders and her supporters, who were concerned that the strong and animated advocacy style she exhibited in her ads was alienating voters. They also urged her to use her ads to undermine Brown’s popularity and reputation for moderation and bipartisanship. This new ad is the second released this week that does not feature her voice.

By using Ramalho and his gym, the Warren campaign is clearly making a direct appeal to a Democratic constituency — conservative blue collar voters — that has been supportive of Brown. Ramalho is also making the case that Warren, not Brown, is the more authentic supporter of their values and ­interests.

“Tax cuts for millionaires — that’s not going to help people around here,” Ramalho says. “I think Scott Brown is with the big corporations. Elizabeth is different.”

The ad then shifts to softer images of Warren shaking hands with people in blue-collar neighborhoods. “She got heart. She got guts, and she’s not going to back down,’’ he says.

Ward, the hero of Mark Wahlberg’s movie “The Fighter,” had indicated he would endorse Brown, but recently canceled a scheduled appearance with him.

Frank Phillips can be reached at phillips@globe.com. Noah Bierman can be reached at nbierman@globe.com.
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