Senator Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, sparred over issues during Monday night’s debate, from bipartisanship and immigration to foreign policy.
Senator Scott Brown emphasized his independence in Washington, noting that he was ranked the second most bipartisan member of the US Senate, even once erroneously claiming to be the most bipartisan. When pressed on his party’s leadership, Brown said he would not necessarily vote for Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, to be his party’s leader, saying: “I have already let it be very clearly known to Mitch McConnell that I’m completely disgusted as to what’s going on down there. And he has a lot of work to do to earn my vote.” Democrat Elizabeth Warren, asked to name a Republican she has been able to work with, cited Senator Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican who lost reelection. She then acknowledged: “He’s not going to be there. That is a problem.” Pressed to name someone else, she said, “It depends on what the subject matter is,” adding that she agrees with Republicans on the need to revise Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage programs.
Asked by a student who emigrated from the Dominican Republic whether they support the DREAM Act allowing young illegal immigrants to remain in the country, Brown said he favors full legal immigration but not the DREAM Act. “It’s a form of backdoor amnesty,” he said, eliciting both cheers and boos from the audience. Warren answered that she strongly supports the DREAM Act but also sees a need for comprehensive immigration reform. “We need to follow the law,” she said. “We need to enforce our borders, but we need to do immigration reform and it needs to happen now. We can’t keep putting this off. It isn’t right.”
Asked to cite an acceptable outcome to the war in Afghanistan, and what responsibility the United States has to achieve the outcome, Warren said, “I think that we have always had difficulty with describing that, and, as a result, I think we need to get our troops out of Afghanistan as quickly as we can.” She specified that meant bringing the troops home before the president’s timeline “and to stop spending $2 billion a week in Afghanistan.” Brown said he supported the president’s surge and his timetable for withdrawal, though he resisted announcing a date, “because I think it shows our hand.”
Model Supreme Court justice
Brown hesitated several beats before answering with another delay, saying, “That’s a great question.” Then, Brown named Justice Antonin Scalia, the leading conservative, before adding Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and John G. Roberts Jr. and the more liberal Sonia Sotomayor as his nominees. Pressed to choose just one, Brown resisted. “Listen, I don’t need to pick one. We have plenty of justices up there, and I’m proud of the ones we have.” Warren grinned while Brown was answering, then named as her model Supreme Court justice her former boss at Harvard Law School, Justice Elena Kagan.