WORCESTER, Mass. - Elizabeth Warren's campaign to defeat tea-party darling Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., has surged to frontrunner status, even as Karl Rove's shadowy corporate-backed super committee PAC pours millions of dollars into attack aids on behalf of the current senator.
A UMass-Boston Herald poll released Dec. 7 showed Warren opening a hefty seven-point lead against Sen. Brown, the first time her campaign has been ahead. Warren's supporters argue that the numbers went up as more people came to know the candidate.
43 percent of voters said Warren would do a better job for the middle class, while only 33 percent said Sen. Brown would.
The poll bodes well for Warren's camp and for Democrats across the country, who see Warren as instrumental in maintaining or strengthening the Democratic majority in the Senate. Analysts say Sen. Brown is highly unlikely to win, given that incumbent senators who score less than 50 percent in such polls generally lose the election. Undecided voters tend to break for the challenger over the incumbent.
Meanwhile, Karl Rove's shadowy super fund, Crossroads GPS, has been pouring money into attack ads aimed at Warren and other liberal Democrats in races around the country. According to the Rove group's press release, the organization has spent more than $4.4 million on these ads over a two-week period.
In its "Citizens United" decision, the Supreme Court ruled that groups like Rove's could funnel millions of dollars into political ads without disclosing from where the funding came.
The ads accused Warren of siding with "extreme left" sections of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and quoted her as saying she created "much of the intellectual foundation for what they do." Over pictures of Wall Street demonstrations, an announcer says, "We need jobs, not intellectual theories and radical protests."
Video: Warren responding to Karl Rove (article continues after video):
As for Occupy Wall Street, the branch closest to Warren, Occupy Boston, ended peacefully, with good relations between protesters and the police and city officials. Many attribute this to the relationships elected officials and public administrators developed towards the demonstrators.
Other Boston-area politicians had kind words for the local grouping, including the city's mayor, who said that he hoped they would continue on as an organization.
In response, Warren condemned Republicans, including Sen. Brown, for repeatedly voting against bills that would have imposed a tax of one percent or far less on those making over $1 million annually, in order to create jobs.
A more recent ad turned logic upside down, accusing Warren of having presided over the TARP bailout program, suggesting that she was responsible for the spending of millions of taxpayer dollars to bailout big banks and corporations.
In fact, Warren was appointed by Sen. Harry Reid, then Majority Leader, to chair the Congressional Oversight Panel in order to protect taxpayers. The Bush administration had previously asked for money to be given without strings to the failing banks; the Democrats put regulations on that money. Warren's job was to ensure that there was as little abuse as possible.
Warren first skyrocketed to prominence for criticizing the TARP program as a giveaway to the rich in Michael Moore's documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story.
Noting that people who actually were responsible for TARP were attacking her for the program they advocated, Warren said, "Let's keep in mind what was going on just over three years ago. Karl Rove was part of the inner circle while George W. Bush is telling Congress and the nation, 'We've gotta bail out the big financial institutions.' His Secretary of the Treasury is handing out money to the largest financial institutions - no strings attached. I go down to Washington and I'm calling them out for it. I'm calling them out on executive bonuses. I'm calling them out on the fact that they're giving this money, no strings attached. And I get attacked for it."
"Then we roll forward three years," she continued. "Now Karl Rove takes money from Wall Street, in order to attack Elizabeth Warren for being cozy with Wall Street? This one goes beyond anything I've ever imagined. I'm just amazed. I really am. It leaves you speechless."
While it is clear that labor and liberal groups support endorsements, neither they nor most of the Democratic establishment have issued endorsements, as Warren must still face the Democratic primary. However, most analysts say Warren is certain to clinch it.
Massachusetts State. Rep. Thomas Conroy dropped out of the race yesterday and threw his support behind Warren.
Photo: Elizabeth Warren at the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association luncheon in Boston, Dec. 1. In later remarks, Warren faulted Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown for opposing bills she said would bring jobs to Massachusetts. (Elise Amendola/AP)