Senator Scott Brown has made extraordinary efforts to differentiate himself from the national Republican Party in his tough reelection bid — appearing with President Obama in campaign commercials, calling himself an independent voice on the trail, and chastising his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, for her efforts to nationalize the race.
“While she’d like to run, apparently, against Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and others, she’s running against Scott Brown, and I’m right here,” Brown said last month during a press conference.
But Brown’s fund-raising on the national level, where money is crucial and anger at Democrats is high, can strike a far different tone. Four fund-raising pages linked to Brown’s website show his campaign making some of the same points emphasized by Warren, that control of the Senate is at stake in their election and that national party affiliation matters.
One fund-raising Web page linked to Brown’s website calls his fight against Warren “the number one Senate race in the country” and urges supporters to donate to Brown because he is “opposed by Professor Elizabeth Warren, the liberal media, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Obama White House.”
Another Web page on Brown’s site, linked to an endorsement by Senator John Thune of South Dakota, urges support for Brown because “his victory holds the key to a Republican majority in the Senate” and “his opponent is funded by the national liberals.”
Two others seek support “to help elect a Republican majority ” from donors who are “committed to a Republican-led United States Senate.”
The pitches follow an April e-mail sent by Brown to national Republicans. “This race is THE battleground for the United States Senate — the only sure hedge to a potential second term for President Obama,” he wrote.
Brown’s campaign did not directly answer questions about the conflicting messages. Manager Jim Barnett instead issued a statement over the weekend criticizing Warren for having represented Travelers Insurance and LTV Steel on two legal cases even though she rails against big business in her fund-raising appeals.
“Elizabeth Warren has raised millions claiming in her fund-raising letters to be a fighter against corporations, and yet it has now been revealed that she has worked on behalf of giant corporations against the interests of the middle class, retirees, and victims of asbestos poisoning,” Barnett said. “Elizabeth Warren’s routine may be good for fund-raising and campaign trail sound bites, but the facts show she is not who she says she is.”
The Brown campaign also pointed out that Warren employs Doug Rubin, a Beacon Hill lobbyist, as her top campaign adviser, even though she complains in fund-raising solicitations that “Washington is rigged to work for those with an army of lawyers and an army of lobbyists.”
Warren’s spokeswoman Alethea Harney said in a statement, “Scott Brown is trying once again to change the subject by launching misleading attacks — but the people of Massachusetts know better.”
In a section called “Why I’m running,” Brown says that “partisan bickering and political gamesmanship won’t help us save that America, and I refuse to participate.
“I’ve been an independent voice and I always do what I think is right for Massachusetts and America, regardless of party.”
The dual messages conveyed by Brown at the state and national level underscore a challenge he faces — winning over voters in a left-of-center state, who usually vote for Democrats, while attracting deep-pocketed donors at the national level who can help him compete with Warren.
“Left and right, the way to trigger conservative or liberal donors is by amping up the partisan rhetoric,” said Rob Gray, a Republican consultant not working in the race. “If he sent out fund-raising e-mails to Republicans in other parts of the country saying ‘I’m Scott Brown and I’m a raging moderate who will vote with the Democrats from time to time,’ you’ll probably get no money back.”
But raising that money with partisan rhetoric poses a danger of giving ground on one of the campaign’s biggest arguments. Brown has been named as one of the most bipartisan senators by several publications, a point of pride. Warren and Democrats have argued that his efforts to cross party lines have been calculated and that he will be unreliable on key issues.
Jeffrey M. Berry, a political scientist at Tufts University, said that most candidates have different messages for different audiences and that the gamble is necessary for Brown because he needs money desperately, not only to keep up with Warren’s national fund-raising machine, but also to compensate for the voter organization advantage that Democrats have in the state. Both candidates are among the nation’s top fund-raisers.
Warren had raised $28.3 million, with roughly 60 percent of her itemized contributions from out-of-state, as of the most recent reporting deadline in mid-August. That compares with $19.5 million for Brown, raised mostly within the state.
But Brown also had $7 million remaining from the 2010 election, much of it from out of state.
“He’s doing what he has to do,” said Peter Berlandi, who was the chief fund-raiser for Governor William F. Weld, a Republican, and for Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti, a Democrat. He said some of Warren’s criticisms of Brown on the topic ring hollow, because both candidates depend on wealthy donors.
“She’s out there accusing him of kowtowing to millionaires and billionaires. Where is she raising her money from?” Berlandi said.Noah Bierman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.