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Brown, Warren debate in Lowell

Three hours before the debate, sign-carrying supporters of both candidates stood outside the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Three hours before the debate, sign-carrying supporters of both candidates stood outside the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.

Senator Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor and Democrat trying to unseat him, had their second debate tonight in a setting almost befitting the gladiators.

They met for an hour before a crowd of 5,700 at the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Tsongas Center. David Gregory, host of the NBC News program “Meet the Press,” moderated. The debate was co-sponsored by the Boston Herald.

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A full recap is below.

Recent polls, including a Globe survey published Sunday, have shown Brown slightly behind Warren.

During their first debate, he aggressively criticized her claim of Native American heritage, and also accused her of having a tax-first reflex as a politician.

Warren, a political newcomer, repeatedly sought to highlight votes the Republican incumbent has taken since Brown joined the Senate nearly two years ago. She has also warned about votes he could take in the coming years, including for Supreme Court vacancies.

The outcome has national implications, as Warren and her fellow Democrats try to maintain majority control of the Senate, while Brown tries to help the GOP claim it along with the US House and the White House.

Warren also has the additional incentive of trying to win seat back for the Democrats after Brown won a 2010 special election to replace a party icon, the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

The candidates also will debate on Oct. 10 in Springfield, and on Oct. 30 in Boston.

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4:05 p.m. - After a State Police check of the Tsongas Center, the arena has opened for the evening. A crowd of 5,700 is expected, which will present a management challenge for debate moderator David Gregory.

Both campaigns were given 500 tickets apiece, and they can be expected to cheer for their respective candidate. Gregory will have to hold them in check if he wants the debate to proceed smoothly.

Gregory, by the way, is not feeling well, UMass Lowell officials say. He is not expected at the debate hall until about an hour before the debate is scheduled to begin.

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4:15 p.m. - UMass Lowell Chancellor Martin T. Meehan just ran through his event intros as part of his microphone soundcheck.

The big warning he plans to deliver (see above): Please, no applause for one or the other of the candidates.

Somehow, that seems like a futile effort. You invite company to your house, you gotta expect they’re gonna have a good time.

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5:50 p.m. - Just back into the debate hall after an intel run outside.

There are many more Brown forces on hand at this debate, but the union-backed Warren crowd in still bigger.

Funny scenes outside as cats and dogs met: Brown and Warren spokesmen Colin Reed and Alleigh Marre shook hands with Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh, and then Marre chatted with her Warren counterpart, Alethea Harney.

Both did interviews with NECN’s Alison King.

Inside the debate hall, it’s very cold, as they pump up the A/C in anticipation of a packed house. Interestingly, they are selling beer in the VIP areas, as well as in the main concession stands - always a noise inducer.

Nonetheless, signs in the arena are broadcasting messages asking the crowd to remain quiet during the debate. If it doesn’t work, you may know why.

Both Brown and Warren have been here since about 2 p.m. They have been holding in the hockey lockeroom areas, and each did a mic check before having their makeup applied.

This is far different from the hectic pace Brown faced last debate, when he had to race back to Boston from Washington after Senate votes. He has had a more serene day today.

It will also be interesting to see how both Brown and Warren do with the crowd and, perhaps more importantly, their families in attendance.

Brown’s wife and daughters have reserved seats in the front row at Stage Left, while Warren’s husband and Arthur Ramahlo, one of “The Fighter” Micky Ward’s boxing trainers, have reserved seats in the front row at Stage Right.

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6:43 p.m. - Chancellor Meehan takes the stage to deliver his welcome.

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6:45 p.m. - Meehan says one of the reasons the school is doing so well is its partnerships, including UMass Medical School chief Michael Collins. Also in house: Education Secretary Paul Reville, Boston School Superintendent Carol Johnson, and US Representatives Edward Markey, Barney Frank, and Michael Capuano.

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6:47 p.m. - Meehan notes that with hourlong debate, applause robs debaters of valuable time.

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6:48 p.m. - In brief remarks, Meehan makes pitch for men’s hockey team and new UMass Lowell polling center. Now bringing David Gregory out onto the stage. He notes he is going back to New York tonight to co-host the “Today” show in the morning.

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6:49 p.m. - Gregory, rallying from illness, takes the stage.

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6:50 p.m. - Gregory tricks crowd into silence by eliciting cheers for both Brown and Warren - and then telling them to be quiet afterward.

“During the debate, don’t do that,” says moderator.

He adds: “I ask you to please respect the quality of the debate. ...If you want to be critical of me, if you want to be critical of them, by God, that’s why they invented Twitter.”

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6:51 p.m. - Big cheer as Brown takes stage - and bigger one as Warren does.

Then, silence.

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6:53 p.m. - As Brown scribbles notes, Warren smiles at photographer. Then more crowd to front of stage to record moment before live broadcast begins.

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6:56 p.m. - Warren has now joined Brown is scribbling some debate notes.

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6:58 p.m. - Both sides of the stage are flanked by students in UML t shirts.

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6:59 p.m. - The way it works out, Brown is seated on the side of the stage with Warren’s husband; Warren is seated on the side with Brown’s wife.

Brown’s wife, Gail Huff, dressed in red, is waving program to attract his attention.

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7 p.m. - The crowd goes deadly silent...

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7:01 p.m. - Gregory welcomes in TV audience and away we go.

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7:02 p.m. - “Basically, there are no rules,” says Gregory, “’Meet the Press’ style.”

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7:03 p.m. - For second debate, first question is about Warren’s claim of Native American heritage. Slight hiss from crowd.

“I have never use the inforamtion about my Native American heritage to my advantage,” she says.

Does not directly answer question, “Do you consider yourself a minority.”

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7:03 p.m. - Brown says issue in election is about job creation, yet the issue for him in this case is her allegedly shifting explanations.

He says until Warren was 38, “she was white,” and then she started to change to being Native American.

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7:05 p.m. - Gregory asks Brown if he is saying she used such a claim to her career advantage. Brown again does not answer that directly.

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7:06 p.m. - Warren says, at root, issue is not heritage, but how she has lived her life.

“I have worked hard for 32 years to make the legal system a little fairer,” she says, and concedes, “I wish I had moved faster” in answering.

Gregory, to Brown, asks if this is a disqualfier. Brown says, “no.”

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7:07 p.m. - “As she gets older, she has an affirmative obligation to check,” Brown says of her claim.

Warren counters that she misheard a question at a noisy news conference and corrected the record afterward.

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7:09 p.m. - Gregory turns to Brown, asking if he is an exagerrator with his claims of meeting with kings and queens.

But senator says difference is that, “I correct it.”

Warren, he says, “It’s not that she didn’t hear the question; this went on for five weeks.”

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7:09 p.m. - Brown says he uses “Professor” Warren greeting as honorific, not a putdown.

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7:10 p.m. - Gregory moves to both candidates’ legal work. Asks if they have been advocating for views or for clients.

Warren challenges Brown to release his client list. Brown counters that there is a list she must provide to Harvard and challenges her to release it.

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7:12 p.m. - “When cameras weren’t rolling,” Warren worked for big corporations, Brown says, yet now represents herself as a consumer advocate.

But when Gregory asks Brown if he has released his client list, Brown says he is a real estate attorney “and a JAG” in the military.

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7:13 p.m. - Warren tries to decouple “what Senator Brown is trying to do here.”

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7:15 p.m. - Warren says she is primarily a teacher and consumer advocate, who has taken on clients when important legal principles to be at stake.

For Brown to suggest her work hurt asbestos victims “is exactly in the wrong direction.”

She worked for asbestos client, for example, to protect worker trust fund. Only later, after she left case, did company renege on payment of monies.

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7:16 p.m. - “Absolutely not,” Warren says when asked if she would turn down same client again.

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7:18 p.m. - Warren cuts off Brown to reframe the case, accusing Brown of misstating facts.

The senator keeps boring in, saying even if you set the asbestos case aside, the LTV Steel case was example of her siding with corporation over the little guy.

“Senator Brown is, once again, making things up,” she says.

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7:19 p.m. - Brown counters that Senator Jay Rockefeller opposes her LTV Steel work.

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7:20 p.m. - Gregory shift to national politics and asks Brown if he would be “reliable ally” of a President Mitt Romney.

Brown says, “I don’t work for anbody... I work for the people of Massachusetts,” and says he is a bipartisan figure.

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7:21 p.m. - Gregory says he is struck by Brown ads where heis with President Obama, but none with Governor Mitt Romney.

First applause of night as moderator pushes on this point.

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7:23 p.m. - Gregory asks Warren, what Republicans in Senate to work with.

“Probably Richard Lugar,” she says.

“He’s not going to be there,” both Brown and Gregory say of retiring Senator Dick Lugar.

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7:25 p.m. - Warren tries to recover by saying she will work with anyone, including, “vegetarian” party members, drawing laugh.

Brown cuts off Gregory as he asks if senator will support Mitch McConnell for leader, saying he wants to address her previous answer.

Brown, finally answering that, says McConnell “has a long way to go” to earn his vote for majority leader.

He says Warren would be totally partisan in Senate.

Applause for him in debate hall countered with some boos.

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7:27 p.m. - Warren hits back, to big cheers, that Brown solicits money by saying his reelection will help ensure GOP majority.

“I absolutely do,” she says when Gregory asks her if she believes Brown is committeed to blocking President Obama’s agenda.

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7:28 p.m. - Brown gets roundly booed when he chides Warren to be quiet by saying, “You’re not in the classroom.”

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7:30 p.m. - Gregory moves to Simpson-Bowles and deficit reduction and some tax increases.

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7:31 p.m. - Gregory asks why Brown can’t support blend of cuts and tax increases.

Brown says he needs to see bills, but has been active in working on problem.

“Every single time” he is in Washington, tax hikes are always the solution.

“Like pigs at a trough,” Washington has a spending problem. He says he won’t raise taxes on anyone “in the middle of a recession.”

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7:33 p.m. - After minutes of silence, Warren says, “What Senator Brown does not want to talk about is he has signed an extreme right-wing pledge” not to raise taxes.

She launches into her attack, saying he would hold hostage tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans if the top 2 percent didn’t get them, too.

“He would hold them hostage,” she says.

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7:35 p.m. - Gregory, asserting himself, cuts off Brown so he can push Warren on her views of Simpson-Bowles, saying, “I hope it’s the reason I am here.”

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7:37 p.m. - Brown says if oil companies lose subsidies, it will be passed off in higher costs to consumers.

Gets applause as he attacks Warren for opposing Keystone pipeline.

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7:37 p.m. - As Brown hits back on Warren criticism for him opposing Buffett Rule, he gets applause when he notes she did not pay higher voluntary income tax rate in Massachusetts.

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7:37 p.m. - Off to first commercial break. Candidates remain seated, chatting with Gregory. Brown is leaning back; Warren leaning forward.

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7:40 p.m. - Back to debate with two student questions.

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7:41 p.m. - Female student asks about what job may await her upon graduation, and what policies will they propose.

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7:42 p.m. - Warren starts by saying she supports president’s job creation bill for short-term creation, and, in long-term, to invest in education, roads and bridges to creating job-creating environment.

“We can invent it here in Massachusetts and we can build it here in Massachusetts, but to do that, we need a good federal partner,” she says.

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7:44 p.m. - Brown wishes student “good luck” and says businesses need tax and regulatory certainty to grow jobs.

“A lot of the proposals being pushed by Professor Warren are job-killing proposals,” the senator says.

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7:46 p.m. - “You can’t be raising taxes and more and more spending when you have $16 trillion in debt,” says Brown, and that would hurt job creation.

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7:47 p.m. - Other student asks if candidates support the DREAM Act.

Brown has called that “form of amnesty,” says Gregory, yet senator congratulates student for becoming citizen (if I heard correctly).

Brown says he would debate DREAM Act, “but they want to push it through without any debate.”

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7:49 p.m. - Warren gets her own cheers when she says she supports the DREAM Act.

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7:49 p.m. - Gregory shifts to foreign affairs, asking Warren “what is an acceptable outcome” in Afghanistan.

“I think it is time to bring our troops home,” she says.

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7:51 p.m. - Brown notes, to applause, he has been in National Guard for 32 years.

“I support the president’s surge and I support his timetable for withdrawal,” but not announcing date, says senator.

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7:52 p.m. - Brown, briefly stunned into silence by question, “Who is your model for Supreme Court justice?”

He says Scalia, to boos, before listing group that includes Sotomayor.

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7:52 p.m. - Gregory asks Warren why Mass. has never elected a female senator. “I don’t know,” says Warren with impish smile, before saying she hopes to do something about that.

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7:54 p.m. - Brown says Warren is hard-working and good professor, “and I am going to do everything in my power” to keep here there.

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7:55 p.m - Final debate question: Should Bobby Valentine be fired as manager of Boston Red Sox. She finally says no, but Brown says he would leave it up to management. “We need to do a little better next year,” he says.

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7:55 p.m. - On to closing statements.

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7:56 p.m. - Brown says he has been bipartisan senator he has promised to be.

“You need people down there who will actually work together,” he says.

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7:57 p.m. - Warren says she is not a professional politician.

Brown has cast some good votes but, “He’s not there” for jobless, women, opponents of Big Oil.

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7:57 p.m. - And debate concludes with big ovation for both.

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