Massachusetts Senate Race Pits the Colonel vs. the Professor

The conversation in the Senate race has mirrored the presidential race, with Brown attacking Warren for comments she made in 2011 when she said "there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own." The comments mirror Obama's "you didn't build that" remarks last month on which Republicans have pounced.

Brown last week launched a "Thank You for Building This" tour, as part of his campaign's efforts to highlight the senator's support for free enterprise. Brown kicked off the tour Friday by bringing coffee and donuts to a construction crew in Framingham, Mass.

"I've visited over 500 businesses, this is an extension of what I've been doing since I was elected," Brown said. "I'm going to go out there and thank those job creators, people who have put their hard earned sweat equity, their livelihood on the line, and my word to them is, 'Thank you.'"

Warren isn't backing down from her comments, however. Indeed, the first-time candidate has made infrastructure a big part of her proposed policy agenda, recently launching her "Rebuild Now" tour that calls for an investment in the country's infrastructure.

"American businesses can compete with anyone so long as they're competing on a level playing field," Warren said. "But when the Chinese are making big investments in infrastructure, that means that their businesses will get their goods to market on state-of-the-art roads and bridges, they'll have state-of-the-art communications and power ... that gives their businesses a real competitive advantage over the next 25 years."

Warren's unapologetic support for such government investment has helped to make her a rising star within the Democratic base. Her status was highlighted by the recent announcement that she would have a prominent speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., next month. Warren will be introducing Bill Clinton.

"I'm going to talk about what I've talked about for years now," Warren said when asked about her speech. "America's middle class is getting hammered and Washington is rigged to work for the big guy. That's what got me into this race, and that's what I will talk about."

Whether it will win over the hearts of a majority of Massachusetts voters is the bigger question, though. The race is everywhere in the state: turn on the radio, glance a newspaper, even just walk down the streets of Boston and you will hear an ad, see an article, or pass by a bumper sticker for one of the two candidates. And that presence is only going to increase in the coming weeks and months.

The race is the most expensive Senate race in the country so far in terms of money raised. A combined total of $46 million has been raised already, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and so Massachusetts residents can expect to be blanketed with a lot more TV, radio and Internet advertising as November draws closer. Voters will also get a chance to see Brown and Warren go head-to-head soon. In the fall, the candidates will face off in a series of four televised debates.

What voters might not see, however, are ads from outside groups. Brown and Warren in January signed an agreement called "the People's Pledge," which vowed to keep advertisements from third-party spending groups out of the race. Eight months later, the pledge is still in place. Warren says she believes the plan has allowed the candidates to focus more on the issues.

"It has at least opened the space to be able to talk about issues," Warren said.

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