Brown and Warren Continue to Trade Barbs
The state Democratic Party says a video depicts Senator Brown staffers making tomahawk chops and Indian war whoops during a rally. They believe it's intended purpose was to mock Elizabeth Warren's claims of Native American ancestry:
Brown's office didn't return calls to confirm who was in the video.
A Massachusetts Republican party spokesman confirmed one of its field coordinators, Brad Garnett, is seen leading whoops and making tomahawk gestures.
But the state Democratic party identified 2 people in the video as the senator's constituent services counsel and his deputy chief of staff.
At a campaign stop early in the day, Senator Brown said he hadn’t seen the video:
“The apologies that need to be made and the offensiveness here is the fact that professor warren took advantage of a claim to be somebody, being a Native American, that she used for an advantage, a tactical advantage.”
This video comes on the heels of a new campaign ad from Senator Brown repeating doubt about Warren’s native american heritage.
For her part, Warren defended herself in her own campaign ad.
"Let me be clear. I never asked for, never got any benefit because of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn't even know about it.”
The Native American issue was a lightning rod in their first debate last week when Brown started the debate questioning Warren's character. But does this issue resonate with voters? A September 17th poll from Suffolk university showed 79% percent of likely voters were aware of the controversy concerning Warren’s heritage. And of those, only 22% believe she benefited by listing herself as a minority hire. So why is Brown renewing the Native American controversy?
David Paleologos is the director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. He says Brown is probably just trying to reframe the election:
"It's shifting the focus away from votes he's taken and shifting the conversation to character and characteristics. We've seen a number of stories bubble up which have been designed to put Elizabeth Warren on the defensive and reframe those positions."
Brown is also attacking Warren on another issue.
News reports are saying Warren worked on behalf of a coal mining company in a bankruptcy case in the 90s. The company, LTV steel, was fighting a federal requirement to pay additional money into a health care fund for retired coal miners. This follows recent reports that in 2009, Warren represented another corporate client, Traveler's insurance, when they were facing massive asbestos poisoning claims.
Brown says Warren's legal work counters her image as a fighter for the middle class.
The Warren campaign released a statement about LTV steel, saying the case was limited to protecting the bankruptcy system and quote – “there was never any question that coal miners and their surviving spouses would receive their full benefits.”