US Sen. Brown calls for bipartisanship, civility
BOSTON (AP) -- Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown called for an end to partisan sniping in Washington on Wednesday, repeating a frequent campaign theme of bipartisanship and civility in government even while his race against likely Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren took on an increasingly harsh tone.
In a speech to students and faculty at Bunker Hill Community College, Brown touted several bills he sponsored that passed with bipartisan support and his willingness to appear at President Barack Obama's side during signing ceremonies.
Brown, who took office in 2010 after winning a special election to fill the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, lambasted a bitterly partisan Washington environment in which Democrats and Republicans constantly question each other's motives and "look at each other as enemies who need to be defeated at all costs."
"We want people with convictions and backbone, not a bunch of pushovers who agree on everything because they believe in nothing," Brown said. "But unfortunately, too many people in Washington would rather have a good brawl than pass a good bill."
The race between Brown and Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and consumer advocate, has been decidedly uncivil in recent days, as the campaigns have clashed on a range of topics from their respective personal wealth to Warren's claim of some Native American ancestry.
While the harshest rhetoric of late has come from campaign surrogates and not the candidates themselves, Brown -- speaking to reporters minutes after Wednesday's speech -- accused the Democrat of taking an "elitist attitude" toward solving the nation's problems.
"The way she is approaching things in terms of knowing better than others, how to do things, the fact that the federal government can do things better than individual businesses and individuals," Brown said. "I think there is an elitist attitude there in the way she is communicating to us as citizens and telling us how do things, who should be taxed, who should not be taxed."
Democrats scoffed at Brown's appeal for bipartisanship, saying he is closely aligned with GOP interests in Washington and pointing to reports that his campaign fund has been buoyed by wealthy Wall Street donors.
"Scott Brown's claim that he's bipartisan is as phony as his $675 barn coat," said John Walsh, the state Democratic party chair, in a statement. "Backed by a nearly $3 million Wall Street campaign fund, Scott Brown is teaming up with national Republicans to help the Republican Party take over the Senate so they can repeal Obamacare, Wall Street reform and more."
Brown said Democratic criticism of his fundraising falls on "deaf ears" because Warren and other Democrats have raised money from Wall Street interests as well.
Total campaign donations in the contest have already topped $30 million, according to an Associated Press review, making it the most expensive U.S. Senate race in the nation with the election still more than six months away.
In his speech, Brown reiterated his claim to be among the most bipartisan of senators on Capitol Hill, a position that could appeal to voters in Massachusetts, where Republicans are heavily outnumbered by Democratic and Independent voters.
Brown touted his ability to cross party lines to win passage of several bills, including one that bars insider stock trading by members of Congress.
The address was also designed to emphasize a campaign theme of "Americans First" that echoes a radio ad Brown unveiled on Tuesday. In that 60-second ad, Brown says that one of his proudest days was standing with Obama as he signed Brown's "Hire A Hero" bill, which offers tax credits to businesses that hire veterans.
While Brown strongly supports Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, he has frequently referenced his willingness to work with Obama, who has high favorability ratings in Massachusetts.