GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 25, 2012

Brown, Warren court women's vote across North Shore

By Doug Moser Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — U.S. Senate candidates Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, in campaign stops around the North Shore, are emphasizing issues of women’s health and pay in a fight over the demographic group that makes up more than half of the Massachusetts electorate.

Both candidates have highlighted their stances and support of breast and cervical cancer screening, federal laws on equal pay and maintaining abortion rights as polls suggest that women say they will vote for Democratic challenger Warren by double-digit margins.

U.S. Sen. Brown, at a campaign stop in North Andover Monday, defended his record supporting equal pay laws, funding for Planned Parenthood medical services — apart from abortion, which, by law, cannot be funded with federal money — and general issues important to women, like the economy, education and taxes.

“My opponent would have you believe there’s a war on women,” he said during a stop at Stachey’s Pizzeria. “Elizabeth Warren has to stop scaring women.”

Brown picked up the endorsement of women’s rights advocate Laurie Myers, who said the campaign should be about everyday issues like jobs and education. “The scare tactics have to stop,” she said.

The candidates have talked little about abortion — both are pro-choice — but Warren has attacked Brown for voting against a federal equal-pay law and for supporting a proposal in the Senate that would allow employers to drop coverage of medical services, including contraception, in the insurance they offer their employees for moral or religious reasons.

She also has criticized him for voting against Elena Kagan, the former Obama administration solicitor general and dean of Harvard Law School, during her Senate confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“He had a chance to vote for a pro-choice candidate to the Supreme Court, and he voted no,” Warren said Tuesday during her campaign visit to Mann Orchards in Methuen. “Elena Kagan is eminently qualified, and he voted no.”

Abortion rights supporters worry that a conservative Supreme Court could reverse Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. Warren, in campaign stops and debates, has indicated supporting pro-choice judicial appointments is important.

Brown has said he voted against Kagan partly because she did not have experience as a judge, adding that he supports abortion rights.

Meanwhile, the federal equal pay law — called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act after an employee who discovered after 20 years that she was making less than men doing similar work — was “the right idea but the wrong bill,” he said.

He said economic and tax issues affect everybody and said the policies Warren supports would mean higher taxes on small businesses.

“Her tax proposals are going to crush the middle class,” he said.

Warren has said she supports allowing tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals, a tax group that can include some businesses, passed in 2001 and 2003 to revert back to the levels of the 1990s. She has argued the threshold of the change would be high enough to exclude most small businesses.

Polls this month have shown Warren with a significant lead among female voters. However, national polls have shown women moving toward former Gov. Mitt Romney since his first debate with President Obama in Denver on Oct. 5. Before that, Obama held double-digit leads among women.

In two polls released earlier this month conducted by WBUR and MassINC, Warren led Brown among women by 51 percent to 40 percent, similar to the margin in a University of Massachusetts-Amherst poll. A poll released Oct. 11 by Public Policy Polling showed Warren with a greater lead among women, 58-38.

In the Jan. 19, 2010, special election, Brown won over Attorney General Martha Coakley by a margin of about 107,000 votes out of 2.3 million cast.

Douglas Moser can be reached at dmoser@gloucestertimes.com, or on Twitter @EagleEyeMoser.