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Mass. Democratic chair apologizes after accusing Scott Brown of trying to be ‘honorary girl’

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party today apologized for saying that Senator Scott Brown tried to portray himself as “an honorary girl” by folding laundry in a TV commercial targeting women voters.

“In the excitement of getting the convention underway and getting the message out about how important it is to re-elect President Obama and elect Elizabeth Warren, I made a statement about Scott Brown that I regret,” party Chairman John Walsh said in a statement this afternoon. “I apologize for that remark.”

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Walsh made his initial comment in a blistering opening statement at the first breakfast meeting of the state’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention, which kicks off Tuesday. Brown is facing a stern reelection challenge from Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and Wall Street critic who will address the convention on Wednesday night.

Walsh’s breakfast remarks also targeted former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, now the Republicans’ presidential nominee, as the party chair urged the delegates to tell their fellow conventioneers about the two Bay State Republicans’ “real” records.

“We’ve also experienced Scott Brown,” Walsh told the delegates. “We’ve got to say a few good things about him: He handsome, right? He’s still got the coat. He’s still got the truck. He’s a regular guy. I mean, he spent a couple million dollars folding towels on TV to prove he’s an honorary girl. We appreciate that.”

While Brown touts bipartisanship with the occasional Democratic vote, Walsh said, “we need someone who’s going to be with us every day, on every vote, and that’s Elizabeth Warren.”

Asked about his “honorary girl” comment afterward, the chairman told the Globe that he was being “fresh.”

He added: “What I believe, in this election for the US Senate, is Scott Brown believes he can go back to the Senate based on a set of images. And, I believe, the next senator is going to be elected on substance and by the grassroots.”

Brown spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said Walsh’s comments were a sign of desperation.

“When a candidate starts to fall behind in the polls is when they resort to name-calling and personal insults,” Marre said. “Scott Brown is pro-choice and wants all women to have good jobs with equal pay. Elizabeth Warren should be ashamed of herself for these negative attacks.”

Walsh issued his apology about six hours later, shortly after the Brown campaign issued a second statement from the leader of the Women for Brown coalition.

Chairwoman Angela Davis connected the Walsh statement with one Warren made in a column published in the Boston Sunday Globe.

In that piece, Warren said that, unlike Brown, she feels embarrassed to to run ads focused on her personal life, adding, “You probably won’t see me folding laundry.”

Davis said: “It seems Professor Warren and her spokesman can’t decide if they are just too good to fold laundry, or if household chores are suitable only for women. Professor Warren should apologize for her own elitist remark, and denounce her spokesman’s insulting comments suggesting folding laundry is a ‘girl’s’ job.”

Initially in his breakfast speech, Walsh’s target was Romney. And he offered a counterpoint to remarks made last week at the Republican National Convention by former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, who encouraged the state’s Republican delegates to evangelize about Romney’s record.

The chairman said: “Mitt Romney wants to say through his magical business acumen, he came in and solved the deficit and transformed it into a surplus, with his management style. You remember the $750 million in fees that he instituted on middle-class families. You need to talk to delegates around the nation.”

Walsh said at Bain Capital, Romney focused on creating wealth, not jobs. And he noted that while Romney was governor of Massachusetts, the state ranked 47th in job creation.

“Now, in hindsight, we know that the only evidence he provided us of that is he looked good in a suit,” said Walsh.

A Romney spokesman defended the former governor’s record.

“As governor, Mitt Romney took on the entrenched Beacon Hill political establishment and closed a $3 billion dollar deficit without raising taxes. As president, Barack Obama raised taxes, punished private sector job creators with crushing new regulations, and wasted billions of dollars on a big government agenda that failed to turn around the economy,” said spokesman Ryan Williams.

“Middle-class families realize that are not better off after four years of Barack Obama, and they are eager to replace him with a fiscally responsible leader like Mitt Romney in November,” Williams added.

Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
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