BOSTON — Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren sparred on tax policy, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Warren’s claims of Native American heritage during their first debate in Massachusetts’ closely watched Senate race.
Brown began the debate by saying Warren “checked the box claiming she is Native American, and clearly she is not.”
Brown called on Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School, to release records related to her hiring at the school to show whether she got an unfair advantage.
“I think character is important,” he said.
Warren said that her parents told her growing up that her mother was part Cherokee and part Delaware Indian and that as a child she never questioned that story.
Warren also said those who hired her during her law school career had said they were either unaware of her background or that it played no role in their decision to hire her.
“This is about family. I can’t and I won’t change who I am,” she said.
Warren shot back at Brown, saying voting for him could turn control of the Senate over to Republican leaders.
“I am working to keep President (Barack) Obama as our commander-in-chief,” she said, “not Mitt Romney.”
Warren pointed to a series of Brown votes in the Senate that she said show he sided with big oil companies and held tax cuts for the middle class hostage to give tax cuts to millionaires.
“Sen. Brown is out there protecting every loophole,” she said.
Brown responded by saying of the two candidates in the race, only one supports higher taxes, and that’s Warren. He also said putting more financial pressure on oil companies could raise prices at the pump.
“I am on the taxpayer’s side,” he said, noting that it’s now costing him $70 to fill up his pick-up truck.