SPRINGFIELD - Halfway though their debate series, Senator Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, met again tonight in Springfield amid polls that still show a close race.
The Republican incumbent and Harvard Law School professor were squaring off at 7 p.m. EDT for an hourlong debate expected to touch on western Massachusetts and rural issues. It will be shown statewide by NECN.
Boston.com, BostonGlobe.com, and “Political Intelligence” offered a live blog below for a minute-by-minute recounting of the debate, and the homepage also offered offer instant fact-checking and analysis once the contest begins.
Among possible subjects of discussion: infrastructure investment, the candidates' concern about areas away from the capital region of Boston, and challenges to daily life in less populated areas of Massachusetts, such as a lack of access to highspeed Internet service.
The debate at Symphony Hall was sponsored by a media consortium including the Springfield Republican, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Western New England Public Television, the local broadcast network affiliates, the University of Massachusetts, and Western New England University.
The moderator was Jim Madigan of WGBY-TV (Channel 57).
The candidates previously debated on Sept. 20 at WBZ-TV in Boston and on Oct. 1 at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Their final debate will be on Oct. 30 and sponsored by a media consortium including The Boston Globe.
7:58 p.m. - And with that, the debate concludes to hearty cheers.
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7:56 p.m. - Warren starts by talking about family trips to Jiminy Peak.
She says race is about two different visions: Brown wants to cut taxes at the top, and then everyone else “picks up the pieces.”
She says “when everybody pays a fair share,” country can make investments and prosper.
7:54 p.m. - On to closings.
In his, Brown starts with again citing endorsement from former Springfield mayor.
And he says he is “truly working very hard in a bipartisan manner,” and that he is “one of that vanishing breed” of candidates in the center.
He says Warren’s reflex is to raise taxes.
7:53 p.m. - Brown says she can’t have it both ways, saying she wants to cut military spending and save the C-5’s at Westover.
She replies, “It’s no longer about a big standing Army, it’s about making the investments we need.”
7:51 p.m. - Warren uses that answer to say it highlights danger in Brown’s anti-tax pledge: He wants to control budget, but not raise revenues to save things like C-5 planes at Westover Air Force Base.
“What we need to do is we need to get serious, put it on the table, and that means revenues,” she says.
7:49 p.m. - Tenth question to Brown: If the BRAC commission wants to make cuts at local bases, where would you stand.
He repeats that he is in the National Guard, and that state has a strong defense industry that needs to be protected.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” he says.
7:46 p.m. - Brown notes 32 years in National Guard, and work on committees focused on armed services. Says Warren favors military cuts.
Then he basically agrees with Warren on the policy aspects: Syria needs regime change, and Iran can’t get a nuclear weapon.
But he hits Warren for saying the country needs a “nuanced approach” to dealing with Iran.
Warren responds by noting her three brothers served in military, one with nearly 300 combat missions in Vietnam.
That, she says, is why the country needs wisdom in applying military force.
7:44 p.m. - Ninth question on Syria and Iran.
Warren calls for Assad’s ouster in Syria, and preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
“That’s why I support the approach that has been used by President Obama,” taking nothing off table but working with other countries to stoke change, Warren says.
7:42 p.m. - Brown says votes can’t be cherry-picked, and totality, he has supported women’s rights.
She retorts: “This is how the senator votes.”
Brown replies, “I didn’t vote for your boss, and I hope she proves me wrong,” he says of former Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan.
7:40 p.m. - Warren says, “I have no doubt” Brown is a good father and husband, but on the one vote for equal pay for equal work, and for birth control for women, and for a pro-choice woman from Massachusetts for Supreme Court.
“Those are bad votes” for the women of Massachusetts.
7:39 p.m. - Eighth question to Brown: How do you differ from Warren on women’s issues.
“We’re both pro-choice,” he says, and he supports equal pay. Notes he lives in a “house full of women,” with wife, Gail Huff, and one of his daughters, Ariana, in the audience.
Brown also says he supports women in combat.
7:36 p.m. - Warren says tax pledge shows Brown works for anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, not voters of Massachusetts.
Brown says he is protecting the job creators. “It makes a great sounbite, professor,” he says, but eliminating Buffett Rule only funds government for short time.
7:35 p.m. - Brown says he is proud of vow not to raise taxes.
“Let’s make it clear: I am not going to be raising taxes on anybody in Massachusetts, or anybody in the United States,” the senator says.
He, again, also hits Warren for not paying optional higher tax rate on state taxes but calling for higher federal taxes on millionaires and others through the Buffett Rule.
7:33 p.m. - Seventh question to Warren: Where do you stand on eliminating the mortgage tax deduction?
She says, no, not for middle-class people. Her swift answer leads to awkward silence.
Then, at prompting from moderator, she continues, attacking Brown for opposing the Buffett rule.
“Senator Brown voted with the billionaires, not with the secretaries,” she says.
7:30 p.m. - “Senator Brown doesn’t want to talk about his voting record; he just wants to launch attacks,” she says.
Brown retorts she is “one of the hired guns” for corporations, and she employs of the state’s “premier lobbyists” in campaign adviser Doug Rubin.
His comments draws boos, and she fights back by saying she founded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to prove it.
He lauds her for that and says it never would have become law if he hadn’t been the deciding vote for it. That triggers another round of boos and then cheers.
7:28 p.m. - Madigan asks the candidates, in sixth question, what does middle-class mean to you?
Brown says he has been working for fair taxes as a town assessor, and as a state lawmaker, and, by contrast, Warren has been representing large corporations. He says she is not for the middle class.
“The one thing we can’t be doing right now in the middle class” is raise taxes.
She replies that fighting for the middle class “has been pretty much my life’s work.”
7:27 p.m. - For about the third time in the debate, Warren links a Brown position to one held by Mitt Romney, as she tries to nationalize the race and highlight that party control of the Senate could hang in the balance with this race’s outcome.
7:25 p.m. - Brown calls for selling excess federal property, giving the president a line-item veto.
“I have never voted for a tax increase and I’m never going to raise taxes on any American,” he says.
7:23 p.m. - Fifth question about specific cuts. Warren cites agricultural subsidies and defense spending. As for closing the deficit, she calls for a blend of cuts and tax increases.
“I am willing to make cuts ... but I also believe we have to raise revenues. That is what it is going to take” to solve the deficit, she says.
7:21 p.m. - Brown repeats that “I’m from around here,” citing youth in Wakefield and education at Tufts and BC Law, perhaps a dig at Warren’s youth in Oklahoma and early career out of state.
7:20 p.m. - Warren says, “The way I see this,” cities and towns should come up with ideas, but they need good federal partner that can invest in STEM education, more teacher funding.
“We need to invest in our children,” both morally and from an economic perspective.
7:18 p.m. - Fourth question to Brown, about local education funding.
He recalls his support for elementary and secondary schooling as state lawmaker, and says he supports Education Arne Duncan and his work in the Obama administration.
“Her constant criticisms of me are that I don’t want to raise taxes on American,” he says, repeating a line from their first debate.
7:16 p.m. - She says she went to college for $50 a course because the country invested in education again.
Brown said “it was through me and my leadership” that Congress got the change made.
7:15 p.m. - Brown says cost of education “is out of sight,” in part by administrative costs, including $350,000 to Warren for teaching a single course.
That triggers mix of boos and applause for candidates.
Brown is painting the connection between her high salary and interest-free loan and the way that cost reaches the student tuition bill.
“There she goes again with regard about talking about student interest rates,” he says, and that he supported a loan program that did not require a tax increase.
7:13 p.m. - In college region, third question to Warren about rising college costs. How cut costs and reduce student debt.
She says she went to public schools and rose to a professor from it.
She calls for investment in community colleges, saying, “This is about priorities. There’s not going to be a single magic bullet, but watch the priorities.”
7:12 p.m. - Brown says cutting that much from Medicare will lead to service cuts for seniors, and he implores them to listen to his warning.
“This is a jobs-crushing bill,” he warns.
She replies, “Senator Brown is going to double-down on a number that’s simply not true.”
7:10 p.m. - Warren hits back, saying Brown wants to cut healthcare, and that, like Mitt Romney, he is trying to scare people by saying Obamacare will cut Medicare spending. She says it will target waste, fraud, and abuse.
She says to repeal it is to fight old battles.
7:07 p.m. - Second question about health care cost increases, and would Brown support replacing fee-for-service with global health care payments.
Brown says he is proud he voted for state’s universal health care law, but Obamacare raises 18 new taxes.
He says teachers and others with “Cadillac tax plans” - meaning to say “Cadillac health plans” - will suffer from those tax increases.
7:06 p.m. - Warren says tomorrow will be first anniversary of Brown’s first anti-job bill vote.
“He stood withthe millionaires, not those who were out of work,” she says.
He retorts, “It’s also the first anniversary of me protecting people’s wallets and pocketbooks.”
7:05 p.m. - Brown says whole race is about jobs and economy, and says bills Warren hits him over were about jobs in name only and would have increased taxes.
Opens with hello to former Mayor Ryan and Bob Cousy, who both endorsed him. Also drops in name of local restaurant where he had lunch. Also says he used lived here.
7:04 p.m. - Warren opens with short term ideas for infrastructure and public safety jobs, and hits Brown for voting against jobs bills in Washington.
Long-term, she calls for investment in innovation, the local “Knowledge Corridor.”
7:02 p.m. - First question to Warrenon unemployment. She won the coin toss. And Madigan tells audience that questions came or were based on questions from 200 members of the public.
7:02 p.m. - Madigan announces the crowd at 2,600 as he tells TV viewers of the ground rules.
7:01 p.m. - And the program opens.
6:59 p.m. - Moderator Madigan asks the candidates not to speak over each other - not for civility’s sake, but because it makes it hard for the sign language interpreter.
6:58 p.m. - Again, Brown immedately starts writing down notes. At first debate, it was his opening statement.
6:57 p.m. - The candidates take the stage and shake hands. Brown in a business suit, Warren in blue blazer.
6:55 p.m. - Madigan appeals for quiet, noting this is a “TV hour” with only 56 minutes of program time.
6:54 p.m. - Moderator Jim Madigan is now addressing the crowd.
He says he is not used to being applauded.
6:52 p.m. - The program is beginning with introductions.
6:46 p.m. - The video feed shows us that Representative John Olver, an Amherst Democrat, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, are in the house.
6:40 p.m. - It’s 20 minutes until the debate, the perfect time for pre-debate spin.
The Warren campaign just e-mailed: “A GUIDE TO TONIGHT’S WESTERN MASS DEBATE: Elizabeth Warren on the issues: She Stands Up for People.”
6:38 p.m. - For some pre-debate perspective, the top of our most recent story about polling in the race:
“US Senator Scott Brown has regained a lead over Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren in a new WBUR-MassINC poll, after a string of polls showed Warren with the lead. The poll is the first since Brown and Warren’s second debate at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Oct. 1.
The telephone poll of 502 likely voters, taken Oct. 5 through Oct. 7, showed Brown leading 47 percent to 43 percent, within the 4.4 percent margin of error. The lead drops to 3 percentage points — 48 percent to 45 percent — with the inclusion of respondents who say they have not fully made up their mind but are leaning to one candidate.
A WBUR poll taken Sept. 26 through Sept. 28 showed Warren with a 2 percentage point lead, which grew to 4 percentage points with the inclusion of leaners. In all, seven of nine previous polls had shown Warren with a slight lead, including a Springfield Republican poll released over the weekend. A Boston Globe poll, which surveyed voters between Sept. 21 and Sept. 27, gave Warren a 5 point advantage.”
6:36 p.m. - UMass has many of its political science professors here, ready to offer instant analysis.
6:20 p.m. - The debate hall is nearly filled. There’s also a large media contingent in the Mahogany Room, located just behind the balcony.
All still photographers will be allowed in about 15 minutes before the debate start to shoot the candidates taking the stage, and then it will be pool-only photographers during the debate itself.
It’s a tough shot for the shooters, since the two candidates will be about 15 feet apart. Makes it hard to get both in same frame, without a lot of dead space between them.
Look for some sideline shots to juxtapose Brown and Warren.
5:50 p.m. - Good evening from Springfield. It was a rainy drive out from Boston, but both Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren made it safely.
She did her mic check first, about 4:20 p.m., getting pointers about where the cameras were located and how loud she should speak to be heard.
After Warren left Symphony Hall, Brown’s personal aide sent an electronic message back to other staffers, letting them know the coast was clear for his own mic check.
The senator arrived casually clad in a triathlon t-shirt.
Outside the hall, both campaigns are well-represented with sign-wavers and horn-honkers.
There will also be a crowd of several hundred in the debate hall, raisingthe likelihood of an audible audience reaction to debate points, though the audience will be about 5,000 short of that which greeted the two candidates on Oct. 1 for their debate at UMass Lowell’s Tsongas Center.
The senator will have the support of his wife, Gail Huff, and younger daughter, Ariana, while Warren’s husband, Bruce Mann, is also on site.Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.