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National Spotlight Tests Elizabeth Warren's Operation

Courtesy Massachusetts Teachers Association

The Warren campaign has sent out a memo with detailed quotes from those involved with her hiring as a professor at Harvard — and the institutions where she taught previously — affirming that she received those positions because she was qualified, not because of her heritage. Warren said she had listed herself as Native American in hopes of attending events with people of similar backgrounds.

Warren’s campaign had no comment for this article.

Brown has called on Warren to release her law school applications from the institutions where she has taught.

Veteran Massachusetts GOP consultant Rob Gray said the issue had the potential to hurt Warren with a key bloc of swing voters if she is seen as having used her ethnic background to get ahead professionally, even if she didn’t.

This “can really cut against a Democrat in Massachusetts. Most of the swing voters available to Republican candidates tend to be less-than-college-educated white voters who have some problems with affirmative action, by and large.”

Back at the gathering of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which endorsed Warren earlier this year, the support of the crowd for the consumer advocate was palpable.

In her speech, Warren noted her long professional career as an educator and emphasized the fight she’s in.

“I’ve taken the point position,” Warren said. “I’m the teacher who stepped out in front. But I’m counting on the fact that I will not be doing this alone.”

She won’t be.

At a booth set up by her campaign outside the ballroom where she spoke, teachers at the meeting of the 110,000-person union streamed to sign up to help her.

Sharon Bamberg, a special-education teacher in the town of Randolph, was one of those who gave her information to the campaign on Saturday. “She’s one of us,” Bamberg said.

Asked if the Native American issue affected her view of Warren, she dismissed it.

“I don’t care what anyone’s ancestral background is,” Bamberg said. “I’m looking at the person today. She’s intelligent, she pulled herself up, she comes from us: no silver spoon for this lady. She’s a hard worker, and that’s what I really respect.”

Beyond the controversy, the support Warren gets here underscores the mathematical problem Brown faces, no matter how many news cycles he wins. Among Warren’s loyal base of support and beyond, voters in Massachusetts will overwhelmingly vote for President Barack Obama. To win, Brown will need a gigantic number of Obama voters to split their ballot.

“We are aware of the math,” one top Brown campaign aide admitted to Roll Call, “but people in Massachusetts, particularly independents who make up a majority of the electorate, vote for the person, not the party.”

But, Democrats said, if voting the person means voting for a Republican Senate, that might change.

“The key is this,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said, “and this is Scott’s problem — he’s a decent guy, but the more it comes down to who is in control of the Senate, the harder it is for him.”

Gray, the Republican, saw the Native American issue fading from voters’ consciousness unless Brown — or another group — decides to remind Bay Staters of it through paid media.

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