Watertown, MA. - Amid cheers of “We Want Liz,” Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate in the most high-profile U.S. Senate race, seemed to be enjoying herself as she wound her way through thick crowds of supporters at the town fair in this working class Boston suburb.
She smiled broadly and chatted as she patted the hands of well-wishers and leaned in to hear their advice.
“Don’t change who you are,” a middle-aged redheaded woman offered.
“Don’t be afraid to push back Scott Brown,” said another woman, referring to her opponent, the Republican incumbent who won Ted Kennedy’s seat in 2010 after the death of the legendary senator. “[He’s] making everything so personal.”
Warren, in a raspberry cardigan and black sneakers, arrived in Watertown buoyed this weekend by a narrow yet new lead in several recent polls over the popular Brown, who won support in Democratic Massachusetts by portraying himself as an independent-minded Republican.
Warren, the Harvard law professor who made her national debut as a critic of Wall Street and a senior advisor to Obama helping oversee financial reform in wake of the 2008 economic downturn, appeared the practiced politician during a break between campaign stops. She managed to fluently shift gears from domestic messages about the economy and environmental issues to the challenge of reviving moribund peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.
“I think part of it is to reaffirm the goal and I support a two-state solution, a Jewish democratic state and a home for the Palestinian people. It has to be negotiated between those two parties and it has to guarantee safety for Israel,” she told Haaretz.
“The role of the United States is to do everything possible to support that, to encourage that, to move to that direction but ultimately to have two parties work out the solution for themselves,” she said.
At a time of deep malaise among Israelis and Palestinians and strained ties between Washington and Jerusalem, Warren said it was important to remain focused.
“I think in so much of life it’s about drawing things to public attention and I think that is one of the things that the American president can do and I think it’s one of the things the country can do,” she said.
She also echoed the White House's position on Iran and how to confront its nuclear ambitions.
“A nuclear Iran is not acceptable. It's bad for the region, it’s bad for Israel, it’s bad for United States, it’s bad for the whole world,” she said. “If Iran develops nuclear weapons it's not only dangerous to have those weapons in Iran’s hands but it increases the likelihood that terrorists will end up with weapons, it increases the likelihood that all of their neighbors will want nuclear weapons and that’s bad for all of us in the world,” she said.
“The reason I say this is that it emphasizes the importance of every nation working together to prevent Iran from developing those weapons. Right now I think the president is doing the right thing. He is working with other countries to put effective sanctions in place, but he takes nothing of the table.”
Back to issues closer to home, Warren, fighting for a seat that will help decide whether the Democrats retain control of the Senate, has been hammering home the implications of a Brown victory. Her opponent may tout himself as bipartisan, she said, but she argues his voting record is that of a loyal Republican.
And if the Senate goes Republican and the House of Representatives retains its Republican majority, the path would be open for the party to push forward with plans that include repealing Obama’s healthcare reform and major changes to Medicare.
Although Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was formerly the Massachusetts governor, he’s not expected to win that race here, and Warren has repeatedly compared and linked Brown to him.
Brown quickly distanced himself last week from Romney’s comments that 47 percent of American voters believe “that they are victims” and will not vote for him and did not mention him in his and Warren's first debate, held Thursday.
It took Warren a while to make her way the throngs of supporters in Watertown as she paused for photos every few steps, hoisted up the occasional baby and took in the scene of bobbing blue and white posters with her name.
At one point she stopped to talk to a trio of 10-year-old schoolgirls.
“I’m running for the Senate,” she said, looking at them in their eyes. “Because that’s what girls do.”
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