In Mass. Senate race, Obama brought into the fray

Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brownn.
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Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brown, who are running in Massachusetts' closely watched U.S. Senate race.
CBS/Getty Images

(CBS News) - In many parts of the country, Republican candidates are running against President Obama, even if he's not technically the Democratic opponent on the ballot. But in Massachusetts, Republican Sen. Scott Brown is touting his work with the president to convince voters to give him a second term.

Brown is in a high-profile race against Elizabeth Warren, the liberal law professor and former Obama administration official who was the driving force behind the creation of the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Republican incumbent, who won the seat in a 2010 special election following longtime Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, delivered a speech at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown this afternoon highlighting his efforts to shepherd through bills with bipartisan support in the Senate, and the need for members of both parties to work together. He also touted his willingness to appear alongside the president to celebrate a "shared accomplishment."

"A few people told me that maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea to go to the signing ceremony at the White House," he said, of the portion of Mr. Obama's jobs package that eventually did pass, according to prepared remarks released by his campaign. "But when the invitation came, I answered 'yes' right away. Of course I wanted to be there to see a commonsense idea become law. That law wouldn't be any better or worse if it were a Republican president signing it. There's such a thing as shared accomplishment, and in my book it sure beats sharing the blame for doing nothing at all."

On Tuesday, his campaign released a radio ad stressing that one of his proudest moments was standing with President Obama as he signed the  "Hire A Hero" bill, which offers tax credits to businesses that hire veterans

"There has to be a basic respect across party lines," Brown said Wednesday. "Without it, all you're going to get are bad laws and a lot of ill will. And let me tell you, in politics just like in the rest of life, once you let a bitter spirit take over, nothing good will ever come from it."

Warren, meanwhile, is making an apparent effort to reinforce her image as a consumer advocate and force for the working class amid attempts from the Brown campaign to paint her as an out-of-touch member of the Harvard elite.

In a new television ad, "Rose Garden," which will air statewide in Massachusetts, Warren touts her relationship with Mr. Obama, who tapped her to help establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010.

The 30-second spot features the president praising Warren for her work as a consumer advocate, overlaying images of the two together with the president's remarks.

"Elizabeth Warren: She's a janitor's daughter who has become one of the country's fiercest advocates for the middle class," Obama says. "She came up with an idea for a new, independent agency that would have one simple, overriding mission: standing up for consumers and middle-class families."

The video, which also features Warren speaking about her dedication to holding big banks accountable, closes with a photo of Warren and the president laughing together in the Oval Office.

Warren and Brown have already become ensconced in a high-profile, high-cost battle for the blue state's Senate seat. Both have raised millions of dollars to date, with Warren bringing in a haul of $6.9 million in 2012 so far, and Brown raising $3.4 million. The two also made a pact promising to eschew outside money - ostensibly keeping super PAC money out of the race.

Both candidates have in recent days come under fierce personal attacks from the other side of the aisle. Last week, Brown's campaign demanded Warren apologize for "participating in Harvard's diversity sham" by allowing the school to list her Native American lineage in "their attempts to demonstrate diversity on their campus faculty"; the Warren campaign, meanwhile, hammered Brown Tuesday after the Boston Globe reported that his 23-year-old daughter had been enjoying the benefits of Mr. Obama's health care overhaul even while Brown promised to repeal it.

The race is expected to be very close. Most recent polls show the candidates within points of each other, and the scrutiny is only expected to increase as November approaches.

Anticipating the impending political circus, both candidates are making efforts to keep their messages clear.

"I didn't run for this office - setting out as the longest of long shots, putting I don't know how many miles on my truck - all so that I could take orders from party leaders or anyone else," Brown said this afternoon. "Each time the roll is called, I know that the decision is mine alone to make, going by my own lights and trying to show the best of Massachusetts."