The candidates for US Senate in Massachusetts met for a third debate Wednesday night. The face off in Springfield produced sharp exchanges on policy issues including taxes, healthcare and women’s rights. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
Republican incumbent Scott Brown strongly defended his opposition to tax increases on the top 2 percent of wage earners as Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren said the wealthy need to pay more in taxes so the federal government can provide more help to local schools , relieve the debt load of college students and cut the budget deficit.
The hour long debate took place in Symphony Hall in Springfield in front of an audience of about 2 thousand people. The candidates stood behind podiums on the stage, with a giant American flag behind them. Questions were posed by moderator Jim Madigan of the Springfield PBS affiliate WGBY-TV, and the candidates’ answers and rebutals were held to strict time limits.
Both candidates sought to portray themselves as champions of the middle class.
When it came to healthcare, Brown again vowed to work with Republicans to repeal Obamacare because he said it will mean cuts to Medicare and tax increases that will harm medical device makers in Massachusetts.
Warren kept coming around to votes taken by Brown on jobs bills and on women’s issues.
Brown said he is pro-choice and had been standing up for women since he was six years old when he saw his mother become a victim of domestic violence. He defended his support for a conscience exemption to the requirement that healthcare plans provide birth control.
Both agreed that Iran can not be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon. Brown warned that Warren’s support for cuts in military spending would harm the two air bases in western Massachusetts. She noted the important roles the bases play in responding to national emergencies and said she would not support a penny of cuts to the local air reserve bases.
Absent completely from this 3rd debate was any mention of the issue that lead off the first two: Warren’s claim to Native American ancestry. Speaking to reporters after the debate, Warren was clearly pleased it did not come this time.
And Brown opted not to raise the issue absent of a question about it.
Observers said there was no clear winner of the Springfield debate. John Baick a professor in the History and Political Science Dept at Western New England University, said the debate did not appear to give either candidate any new talking points for the closing stretch of the campaign.
Brown and Warren have one more debate scheduled. It is on Oct. 30th in Boston.