It was an audience that required little convincing.
Inside Boston University’s Alfred L. Morse Auditorium Saturday, Elizabeth Warren supporters — many of them college students — wore campaign T-shirts, waved signs, and chanted “Warren! Warren!” as the Senate candidate took to the stage for a get-fired-up speech.
“We know what this race is about,” said Warren in the beginning of her 13-minute speech. “Whose side do you stand on, and whose vote can you count on.”
At the rally, where supporters packed an auditorium that seats 750, Warren took on the harder tone that matched her more confrontational advertising that has recently debuted on airwaves.
She was joined by Governor Deval Patrick and congressman Michael E. Capuano, who focused less on persuading voters and more on urging supporters to use the next month-and-a-half to canvass, make phone calls, and reach out to friends and neighbors to bolster Warren’s bid for the Senate.
The rally came as Brown nabbed an endorsement on Saturday from Senator John McCain, who lauded Brown’s military experience.
Patrick, in a fiery speech reminiscent of his appearance at the Democratic National Convention, urged supporters to work hard for the campaign. The governor has taken to stumping for the Democratic candidate during critical moments in her campaign for Brown’s seat, endorsing her right before the state’s Democratic convention as she fended off criticism for her claims to Native American heritage.
“Show up in Back Bay and up on Beacon Hill — that’s great, important,” Patrick said. “But show up in Roxbury and Dorchester, too. Show up in Mattapan and East Boston.”
Capuano used his speech to paint Brown as an extremist Republican who has allied himself with Tea Partiers and antiabortion activists.
“We need to remind people what is at stake, how serious it is,” he said. “I wish we had some of the old reasonable Republicans around, but we don’t.”
Warren used her time on stage to discuss her opponent’s decisions during his past two years in office, and to contrast them with her aspirations. She focused on women’s issues — abortion and equal pay — as well as her promises to create tax cuts for the middle class.
“When it comes down to the big votes, too often Scott Brown has been on the side of the millionaires and the billionaires,” Warren said.
“The vision of my Republican opponent and the Republican party can be boiled down to this,” she added later. “I got mine, the rest of you are on your own.”
The end of her speech was met with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” — the same song that bade farewell to Bill Clinton and the Democratic National Convention less than two weeks ago. After the rally, Warren quipped to reporters who asked whether she was ready for her Thursday debate against Brown: “Of course not, it’s only Saturday!”
In response, Brown’s campaign lambasted Warren’s accusation that Brown protects the wealthy. Brown’s spokesman, Alleigh Marre, said Warren has been taking “marching orders” from backers in Washington, who have called for her to make more disparaging remarks against the incumbent.
“These are more negative attacks from Elizabeth Warren,” said Marre. “This is another case of her not being honest with the people of Massachusetts.”
Constituents also noticed the change in tone.
“I’m not big into doing negative campaigns,” said Lydia Graves, 60, of Medford. “But I thought she did a good job of pointing out Brown’s voting record, which people don’t focus on because he look so nice on TV.”
Graves said her speech “didn’t have a ton of specifics,” but she did not feel it was necessary as supporters at the rally know what Warren stands for.
For some in the audience, Patrick was the more exciting part of the event.
When asked how he liked the rally, 21-year-old Conor Gillies a senior at Boston University, immediately responded with praise for Patrick.
“He’s got real presence,” Gillies said. “He really got everyone ready to go out there to canvass and help out.”
Janet Baronian, 57, of Reading, said she appreciated the politicians’ focus on women’s issues — a right to choose, access to contraception, and equal pay for equal work.
“If you’re a woman and you have a daughter, or even a son, you have to vote for her,” Baronian said.
It was a big day for Brown, as well, as he garnered a formal endorsement from McCain, who was the Republican nominee in the 2008 presidential election. In a statement Saturday, McCain cited the recent eruption of violence in North Africa and the Middle East as cause to vote for a candidate with a personal investment in the military. Brown has spent 32 years in the Army National Guard.
“We don’t have enough of this kind of military and leadership experience in Washington,” McCain said about Brown in the statement. “Scott understands that our freedoms are preserved by a strong military and our number one priority is keeping Americans safe at home and abroad.”
Support from McCain may be considered important in the race because he has been known as a moderate Republican, a mantle that Brown also seeks to carry. But McCain also only snagged 36 percent of the Massachusetts vote in the 2008 presidential race.
Brown will make an appearance Sunday at Gillette Stadium to greet New England Patriots fans before the first home game of the season.Martine Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.