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Warren and Brown: Scorpions in a bottle

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It’s a scorpions-in-a-bottle rematch that might be even more bitter than the original bout: Scott Brown-Elizabeth Warren II, a political sting-fest playing out on the national stage between dueling vice-presidential auditioners.

Brown lost his Senate seat to Warren in 2012, then decamped to New Hampshire and lost a Senate bid there in 2014. Like a boxcar-hopping hobo hitching a lift back to town, he’s hoping to climb aboard the Trump Train and ride it back to relevance.

Warren, a primary season hold-out, has now decided that Hillary Clinton, whom she once considered a big-bank-coddling sell-out, is actually a populist battler. And so this week, the Massachusetts senator joined Clinton on the campaign trail, in what is widely seen as a tryout for the number-two spot on the ticket.

But even as they’ve gone about their national auditions, the venom has been flying between the two. Full disclosure: I recently had a little set-to of my own with Brown. I asked him some questions at an event in New Hampshire and, in my column, pointed out the vacuity — um, make that, illogic — of his response. The next day, he took to Twitter to call me a hatchet man and declare that I needed to hit the gym.

That said, I’d say Warren is more the instigator here. Since beating Scott Brown in 2012, she’s adopted a puzzling public persona: the sore winner. She has, for example, repeatedly used Brown as fodder for St. Patrick’s Day breakfast jokes; even in that venue, it’s seemed like piling on. Here’s her barb from March: “Donald Trump is floating Scott Brown as a possible running mate. . . . It would be the perfect reality show match-up. Celebrity Apprentice meets The Biggest Loser.”


She recycled that zinger in a June 18 speech to New Hampshire’s Democratic Party Convention and landed some other stings as well. Like this one: “I’m here to apologize. See, back when I beat Scott Brown in 2012, I never expected him to pack up his truck, move to New Hampshire, and become your problem. I am soooo sorry.”


Two weeks earlier, she had needled Brown, and delighted herself in so doing, during a speech to Massachusetts Democrats.

All that has obviously riled her rival. Speaking on Herald Radio recently, he said that “it’s starting to get a little creepy, the obsession” Warren has with him. (It doesn’t rival his obsession with himself, mind you.) Of course, Brown shouldn’t be mistaken for an innocent here. Back in May, he suggested one of Warren’s Twitter attacks on Trump may have been “drunk tweeting.”

Brown’s latest jab came on Monday, aimed at a Warren soft spot: her unsubstantiated former assertion of Native American ancestry, which became an issue in their 2012 Senate race. Back then, the Brown camp charged that Warren had made that claim to gain an advantage in landing her law school posts. Warren said it was something she had heard from her family and that it hadn’t played a role in her hiring.

This week, Brown, clearly intent on putting that matter back in play just as Warren was appearing with Clinton, helpfully suggested that Warren “can take a DNA test” or release her employment records to clear up any lingering questions.

My advice? Guys, this is off-putting. Not only do you not look presidential, you don’t even look vice presidential; after all, it’s a ticketmate’s job to attack the other party’s presidential nominee, not a once and possibly future rival.


In other words, give it a rest, please. But I know that’s not in the nature of scorpions.

Scot Lehigh can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh.