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Okay, Joe Biden and Barack Obama: This is what you have to do in the debates and on the stump:

“He’s had exactly one chance to vote for equal pay for equal work. And he voted No. He had exactly one chance to vote for insurance coverage for birth control and other preventive services for women. He voted No. And he had exactly one chance to vote for a pro-choice woman from Massachusetts to the United States Supreme Court. And he voted No. Those are bad votes for women. The women of Massachusetts need a Senator they can count on not some of the time, but all of the time.”
That was the strongest moment in a strong debate by Warren in the Massachusetts Senate candidates' third meeting, a debate Warren clearly won. Warren, more successfully than she has to date, painted Brown with the label he's been working so strenuously to avoid: "Republican." That came when he reiterated, repeatedly, his fealty to Grover Norquist, giving Warren another key opportunity: "I think I just heard Senator Brown say he'd signed a pledge to work for Grover Norquist but not for the people of Massachusetts. […] What Sen. Brown has said he would do is let more than $2 trillion tax cuts expire for 98 percent of the families here in Massachusetts."

That was the pace set by Warren out of the gate. She kept Brown on the defensive, and the result for him was reducing him to moments in which he was very teabaggery, in between torrents of incoherence. It also led him to repeat some of his "kings and queens" kind of self-aggrandizing whoppers. For example, in the foreign policy exchange, he said he "served in Afghanistan." He didn't. As senator "he saw no combat during two brief visits." When the questioning turned to defense cuts and base closures, he repeated his claim from previous debates that he's the "ranking member" of the Armed Services Committee. He's not. That would be John McCain. Brown is number six among Republicans on the committee.

He took credit for the eventual compromise that led to keeping student loan interest rates, after having joined Republican filibusters in blocking initial bills. He said "through me and my leadership that we got that done." The compromise, however, was negotiated by the actual leadership in the Senate, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Brown also tried to claim credit for being "the deciding vote" in the committee that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He's not on the Banking Committee, so maybe he meant he was the vote that broke the filibuster for the whole of Dodd/Frank. After which he immediately got to work undermining it.

Goal Thermometer

Brown did himself no favors by trying to pump up his record, because every time he did it in was in a defensive posture, trying to answer strong points made by Warren. She was able to brush aside his attacks, and even capitalize on them with cogent, pointed comebacks, while hers against him visibly got under his skin.

The momentum in this race has been with Warren for at least a few weeks now, and her performance last night will boost her through the final debate in the race, on Oct. 30, and the election a week after.

Please donate $3 to Elizabeth Warren on ActBlue.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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