Sen. Scott Brown, known for his barn jacket and pickup truck, is going after working-class independent voters by saying he understands the challenges they face. Hes positioning himself as an outsider working against Washington for the people of his state.
Indeed, Brown wants to be seen as a regular guy who is reaching across the aisle, diligently working to get things done — and has. He sees himself as the underdog, the position he's been in his whole life. His story: He has been fighting, against the political odds, to take on the deeply rooted political machines in Boston and Washington, D.C., for the sake of Bay Staters.
Warren wants to be seen as a normal, everyday person — a gutsy fighter for the middle class, who grew up on its "ragged edge." Her story: She's been fighting for the little guy against the big banks and their allies her whole career. And the big Wall Street fat cats and their compatriots will do anything to keep her from getting to the Senate.
Of course, the campaigns and their surrogates will blast their own narratives about their opponent.
Warren is "not credible when she says 'I'm one of you,'" said Brad Card, a Republican lobbyist in Washington, D.C., who is a Bay State native and familiar with the Brown campaign.
"The ironworker from South Boston is going to look at Scott Brown — see his jacket, his truck, hear that he sounds like them, that he grew up playing basketball, goes to Sox games and Patriots games. And then you have this woman who is from Oklahoma, is a professor at Harvard and lives in a multimillion-dollar home in Cambridge," he explained, echoing Brown's line that Warren is an "elitist."
Democrats who understand the voters both candidates are courting vociferously defend Warren's middle-class cred.
"People want to try and take a shot at her because she happens to be smart enough and qualified enough to be a professor at Harvard," Boston City Councilor Mike Ross (D) said. "But she knows of what she speaks: That middle-class world is the world she grew up in."
Democrats in the state said that while those key working-class voters are in play, they voted for a promise in the 2010 special election Brown won but haven't seen results that will sway them to vote Republican again this year.
"I've seen plenty of elections in Massachusetts where union guys vote Republican," longtime Bay State Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh said. But she said Brown's appeal has probably run its course with a lot of those conservative-leaning blue-collar workers. "The barn jacket in South Boston got him the first round, but that's not putting food on the table for them now — and they've been out of work a long time and he's done nothing for them down in Washington."
Watch for Democrats to tie Brown to D.C. Republicans. On at least one issue, Warren has described Brown as being "with Washington and Republican extremists and against the people of Massachusetts."
That's an accusation Brown partisans see as laughable given his record of voting with both Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats scoff at the idea he's an underdog who is fighting against the establishment. They see Brown, an incumbent Senator with $13 million in the bank and two decades in elected office, as part of the establishment.