* Warren says Brown "in lockstep" with Republicans on big
* Brown questions Warren's ability to compromise with
By Ros Krasny
BOSTON, Oct 1 Democrat Elizabeth Warren's claim
of Native American heritage was once again in the spotlight as
she sparred with Republican rival Scott Brown on Monday in the
second debate of the pair's contest for the U.S. Senate seat
from traditionally Democratic Massachusetts.
Recent polls show Warren, 63, a Harvard Law School professor
and former official in President Barack Obama's administration,
maintains a slim lead over Brown, who swept into the Senate in a
special election in 2010 after the death of revered Democratic
Senator Edward Kennedy.
The debate at the University of Massachusetts Lowell before
a sometimes raucous crowd of over 5,000, was combative. The
candidates staked out opposite positions on issues ranging from
how to create jobs to the timetable for bringing U.S. troops
home from Afghanistan.
Brown, 53, repeated his call for Warren to release her
personnel records to prove that she had received no unfair
advantage by claiming to be Native American. He said the issue
was one of "integrity and character."
"I have never used that information ... to get any kind of
advantage," said Warren, whose campaign has said she is 1/32
Warren said she was told about her heritage by her mother
and never saw any reason to question it. "To try to turn this
into something bigger is just wrong," she said.
For his part, Brown said he was not guilty of exaggeration
when he remarked this summer that he had had "secret meetings
with kings and queens" in his role as senator.
Brown termed himself an "independent" several times, citing
his moderate voting record and saying that Senate Republican
leader Mitch McConnell "will have to work very hard to earn my
vote" in the next Congress.
He slammed Warren for not being able to name a Republican
senator who she would be able to work with. She finally named
Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, who lost his primary fight in the
spring to a more conservative Republican.
When Brown lauded "the beauty of being independent," Warren
said that "he's sure not saying the same thing when he goes
around the country raising money" for his campaign.
Brown's overall record might be centrist but he is "in
lockstep" with his party's leadership on key votes involving
taxes and economic policy, Warren said.
"On economic issues, I absolutely do" believe that Brown's
role is to obstruct Obama's policies, Warren said, citing his
votes against various job and unemployment measures.
Her campaign has made Brown's candidacy a national issue and
the Massachusetts election critical to which party has control
of the Senate after the Nov. 6 election.
Democrats have a 51-47 advantage over Republicans in the
100-seat U.S. Senate, with two independents. However, they are
defending more than 20 seats against Republican challengers,
while Republicans are defending only half that many.
In Massachusetts only 29 percent of likely voters in a
recent survey taken for WBUR, Boston's National Public Radio
station, said they would prefer to see Republicans in control;
58 percent say they would prefer to see Democrats continue to
run the Senate.
Brown avoided a question on whether he would be "a reliable
ally" of Mitt Romney, should the Republican presidential
candidate be elected, and whether he was distancing himself from
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, who is forecast to lose
the state by a wide margin.
During the testy one-hour debate, moderator David Gregory of
NBC asked the Democrat if she felt Brown was "needling" her by
routinely referring to her as "Professor Warren."
"It doesn't bother me. I worked hard for this," said Warren,
who grew up in Oklahoma, the daughter of a janitor.
Still, Brown drew boos from the audience when at one point
he interrupted Warren, saying, "Excuse me, I'm not a student in
your classroom. Please let me respond."
Two more debates are scheduled before the election.