Warren Pushed to Debate in Mass. Senate Race

Tuesday, 29 May 2012 09:14 AM

By Greg McDonald

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A rival for the U.S. Senate Democratic nomination in Massachusetts is trying to push front-runner Elizabeth Warren into a series of primary debates, as she struggles to overcome questions about claiming minority status on job applications.
 
“I’ve been asking her to debate me since January, and she’s turned me down,” Marisa DeFranco told the Boston Herald Monday night. She said she’d be happy with four debates before the Democratic primary on Sept. 6.
 
Warren, considered the party’s front-runner in the campaign against incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown, is apparently open to the idea even though recent polls show DeFranco and other Democratic rivals trailing her by at least 21 points.
 
Warren campaign spokeswoman Alethea Harney told the Herald, “We look forward to debates and will consider them once the [state Democratic] convention is over” on Saturday. 
 
Thomas Whalen, a political historian at Boston University, told the Herald that DeFranco’s demand resembles “a Hail Mary pass” to attract the attention of party activists heading into this weekend’s convention.
 
But he said Warren would be smart to accept the debate challenge for no other reason than to help clarify her argument that she would do a better job in Washington than Brown.
 
“She is kind of fuzzy right now,” Whalen said.
 
DeFranco, an immigration lawyer, has acknowledged that it would be something of a miracle to beat the well-funded Warren in the primary.
 
But she told the Herald that Warren may not be the best Democratic candidate to take on Brown, given her stumbling responses to questions about why she would claim Native American status on job applications to Harvard and at least one other school.

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