The class-warfare debate that flared up after the release of the Mitt Romney video really got its start this cycle many months ago, when Elizabeth Warren made some remarks about taxes and the rich that went viral.They focused attention on fundamental questions about government, the true nature of individual success, and our shared responsibilities to one another — a debate that took a sharp turn in another direction with the Romney video.

So I checked in with Warren for her take on Romney’s comments.

“Romney just wrote off half the people in Massachusetts and half the people in America as deadbeats,” Warren told me. “This is a separate category of contempt for half of our fellow citizens.”

“He doesn’t understand that millions of these people are working their hearts out, and paying plenty in taxes,” Warren continued, meaning many people pay no federal income taxes do pay other taxes. She added Romney has “no recognition of what people’s lives are really like.”

Warren said Romney’s comments clarified the choice voters face this fall. “It’s a party that says, `I’ve got mine and the rest of you are on your own,’ versus those who say, `We’re all in this together,’” she said. “There’s a clear choice in this election, between those who believe that to build an economy, the rich and powerful should get richer and more powerful, with tax cuts for the wealthiest and deregulation, while everyone else is left to pick up the pieces.”

Warren has taken the lead in three polls against Brown, and Brown has not cracked 46 percent in any them — potentially dangerous territory for an incumbent — but she rebuffed all questions about polling. Asked to address recent reports that some Dems are pressuring her to shift her strategy, out of fear that Brown is defining himself as likeable and above partisanship, Warren suggested she’d stick to her course. “I’m out there every day, working for every vote in the Commonwealth,” she said. “I would be doing that if I were down 20 points or up 20 points.”

However, Warren did recently become the first of the two candidates to release an ad taking direct aim at the opponent. The ad, which charges that Brown sides with big money interests, prompted Republicans to say she has gone “negative,” showing she is well aware this race remains a dead heat in which Brown could still prevail. Asked to respond, Warren suggested it’s fair to draw a sharp contrast on issues.

“I’m talking about the issues,” Warren said. “The central issue in this campaign is how Scott Brown has voted for the last two and a half years. Scott brown is not a bad guy, and sometimes he has some good votes,” Warren continued, in a nod to the political reality that Brown has established his image as independent. She added: “But too often, when it comes down to it, Scott Brown votes with millionaires and billionaires instead of working families here in Massachusetts.”