* Elizabeth Warren locked horns with Wall Street
* Incumbent Brown is state's most popular politician
(Adds Brown poll results, quotes, background)
By Ros Krasny
FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Sept 14 Consumer advocate
Elizabeth Warren took the message that made her unpopular with
Wall Street to Massachusetts voters on Wednesday as she began
her U.S. Senate campaign vowing to fight for the middle class.
"Washington gives some of the biggest corporations in the
world special loopholes and tax breaks, while middle-class
families and small businesses struggle," Warren said.
A Harvard Law School professor who created the Obama
administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren
hopes to unseat popular Republican Scott Brown in what could be
one of the most closely watched congressional races of 2012.
Fierce opposition from Republicans in Congress is thought
to have stopped President Barack Obama from nominating Warren
to run the consumer agency, and she left his administration.
"Middle-class families have been chipped at, hacked at,
squeezed and hammered for a generation now, and I don't think
Washington gets it," Warren said. "I think this is past labels.
This is about a core set of values.
Beating Brown will be no easy task for Warren or any other
Democrat. The moderate Republican has the highest favorability
rating of any politician in the traditionally Democratic state,
and a large campaign war chest.
Brown led all Democratic candidates in a recent survey by
the MassINC polling group for WBUR radio, although close to
half of potential voters at the time had not heard of Warren.
Republicans will be keen to hold the seat they won in a
huge upset in 2010 after the death of longtime Democratic
Senator Edward Kennedy. They have begun to portray Warren as an
ultra-liberal Obama acolyte.
Cornelius Hurley, a law professor at Boston University,
said Warren would face challenges in a general election.
"She will have to distance herself from the failing
Obama/Geithner economic record -- including the deeply flawed
Dodd-Frank Act that created the consumer agency she championed
but was deemed too polarizing to lead," Hurley said.
'BREATH OF FRESH AIR'
Warren, 62, started the day greeting commuters at a train
station in South Boston. She later talked to customers at a
diner in Framingham, west of Boston -- one of at least six
campaign stops planned in the next two days.
The candidate was greeted with enthusiasm. "She is
intelligent and has a very good understanding of the special
interests in this country. She's a breath of fresh air," said
Ellen Courchene, a retired guidance counselor from Wayland,
Before facing Brown, Warren must defeat several Democratic
opponents in a primary election in September 2012.
The prolific author twice named among Time magazine's 100
Most Influential people in the World has the highest profile of
Democrats vying to recapture the Senate seat held by Kennedy,
revered by liberals, for more than four decades.
Brown, a former state legislator, spun his victory in 2010
into a high national profile and had about $9.6 million in
campaign cash on hand as of June 30.
A former public school and Methodist Sunday school teacher,
Warren has hardscrabble roots in Oklahoma, where her family
struggled during the Great Depression.
"I know what it's like to live one payslip or one bad
diagnosis away from having your life turned upside down," she
said. "I've been fighting for the middle class all my life."
After the 2008 financial crisis, Warren led a panel created
by Congress to examine how bank bailout money was being spent
and went on to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
often locking horns with Wall Street.
She is a bankruptcy expert and has been an outspoken
advocate for cracking down on abusive practices concerning
credit cards and payday loans.
Warren said she was not worried about being linked in
voters' minds to Obama, who is expected to face a tough 2012
"I'm my own person, and I've been talking about my set of
issues for a long time," Warren said.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)