Yesterday I noted here that national Republicans have opened up a new front in the Massachusetts Senate race by attacking Elizabeth Warren for embracing Occupy Wall Street — the latest effort to turn blue collar whites and independents against the protests and their populist message. Republicans are seeking to tie Warren directly to protesters who clashed with cops in Massachusetts, an effort to exploit a cultural fault line between working class whites and liberal activists that has been key to our politics for decades.
This is the sort of thing that has traditionally spooked Dems, but it appears Warren is standing by the protests. Asked for comment on the GOP criticism, a Warren spokesman sends over this:
Elizabeth was making the point that she has been protesting Wall Street’s practices and policies for years — and working to change them. Wall Street’s tricks brought our economy to the edge of collapse and there hasn’t been any real accountability. She understands why people are so angry and why they are taking their fight to the street. She has said repeatedly everyone has to abide by the law. Elizabeth is working for change a different way, to take this fight to the United States Senate.
That seems to explicitly align her Senate candidacy with the protesters who (justifiably, she says) have taken the fight to the streets. She’s battling the same forces they are — albeit her campaign is qualifying that her Senate candidacy is pursuing change in a “different way.”
Warren was also quizzed by reporters yesterday about the GOP criticism, and she said:
“I have been protesting Wall Street for a very long time. Occupy Wall Street is an organic movement, it expresses enormous frustration and gives a great faith all across the country for people to talk about what’s broken. So I am glad that that conversation is going forward and that it’s going forward in an organic way.”
So there you go. Assuming the argument over Occupy Wall Street will continue in this race, it’s going to be very interesting to see if her support for the movement becomes in any way a political liability. Republicans have had great success in the past with this tactic — recall the hard hats during Vietnam — but Warren doesn’t appear to be fazed by the use of it against her, and if it doesn’t work this time around perhaps we can all agree that it’s not 1970 anymore.
And as Markos Moulitsas adds, why would this tactic work in Massachusetts, of all places? Republicans will argue that the sort of blue collar whites and independents who might be culturally inclined against outsized protests tactics will be central to this race. That may be, but as David Dayen aptly put it: “The hard hats have been brutalized just as much as the rest of us in this economy.”
Relatedly, the current campaign against Warren over Occupy Wall Street is coming out of the offices of national Republicans. Now that the protests are at the center of the Massachusetts race, has anyone asked Scott Brown for comment on them?