Airing the dirty laundry: Walsh blunder shows Warren camp angst

Convention week was supposed to be Elizabeth Warren’s moment in the sun, a chance to fire up the base and deliver her populist economic pitch on a national stage. Instead, the Warren campaign is recovering from a round of friendly fire that underscores how steep a climb it has ahead of it.

Yesterday, state Democratic Party boss John Walsh tried walking back comments calling Sen. Scott Brown “an honorary girl.”

Speaking at a DNC breakfast in Charlotte, Walsh tried to draw a contrast between Warren, whom Walsh cast as a candidate of substance, and Brown, who “believes he can go back to the Senate based on a set of images.”

Some of those images are burned into the electorate, like Brown’s barn coat and his omnipresent truck. And then there are the new ones the Brown campaign has been pushing — Brown as a father and family man, a different breed of Republican than the kind they make out in Missouri.

“I mean,” Walsh said, “he spent a couple million dollars folding towels on TV to prove he’s an honorary girl. We appreciate that.” Walsh quickly doubled back on that comment, apologizing for getting caught up “in the excitement of getting the convention underway and getting the message out about how important it is to re-elect President Obama and elect Elizabeth Warren.”

The Herald lines up local DNC delegates and gives them the chance to knock Walsh’s girl comment. Howie Carr piles on, noting that he “folds all the kitchen towels in my house,” and asking, “does that make me an honorary girl, too?”

Warren’s campaign has been wobbly from the start. The DNC was supposed to be the beginning of a period where Warren would reset an election about nothing, define her Senate campaign, make up the ground she’s been losing to Brown, and put her in a position to draft off Massachusetts voters turning out for President Obama in November.

Walsh’s “honorary girl” comments are more than a riff on some old Brian McGrory columns; they reveal a deep sense of insecurity about where the Senate race is heading.

Warren is attempting to nationalize the Senate race. She is trying to make it, in part, a referendum on national Republicans’ regressive stances on equal pay and birth control and abortion. She’s doing this because she needs to win Massachusetts women handily to have any shot of toppling Brown. And right now, she’s not doing nearly enough to win.

Women and independent voters spelled the difference between Scott Brown seizing the People’s Seat, and Charlie Baker failing to replicate Brown’s feat several months later. Brown won big with men, stayed within a few points of Martha Coakley with women, and rolled up huge numbers with independents; Baker underperformed Brown with independents, lost with women by 24 points, and as a consequence, he’s not sitting in the Corner Office right now.

Warren’s task is posting returns that look a lot more like Gov. Deval Patrick’s than Coakley’s. Brown knows this, which is why he was so quick to knife Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, why he has pushed wife Gail Huff out onto the campaign trail, and why he poured millions into a TV commercial in which he folds the laundry and gazes lovingly at the female members of his family.

It’s working, and it’s driving Wash nuts right now. Brown has opened up a five-point lead on Warren, in part, because he’s rolling up monster numbers with men and independents, and because he’s been able to blunt Warren’s edge with women. That’s where the anger behind Brown acting like “an honorary girl” comes from. But it’s going to take more than ham-handed complaints to overcome.

                                                                                                                                                    –PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

The secretary of state’s office tells Haverhill it’s too late to put a debt exclusion question on the November 6 ballot for a school feasibility study, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Governing examines the silver tsunami and explores how retiring baby boomers will affect federal and state government.

The White House releases a pair of its homebrew recipes, for a Honey Ale and a Honey Porter.

ELECTION 2012

The Globe reports that several businesses Scott Brown has visited on his “Thank You For Building This” tour had help doing so from the government in various ways. The Herald uses DNC week to make this a story again. Boston Mayor Tom Menino plays hard to get.

The Eagle-Tribune examines the use of Twitter by political campaigns.

Joe Kearns Goodwin raises $235,000 in his state Senate primary race against former state senator Mike Barrett, Mara Dolan,  and Joe Mullin, the Sun reports. The Democratic primary race to replace Sen. Fred Berry is too close to call, the Salem News reports.

US Rep. John Tierney’s campaign urges Republican Richard Tisei not to accept nearly $1 million in campaign help from a Republican PAC called Young Guns. Tisei is not quoted — not even a “couldn’t be reached for comment” — in the Gloucester Times story. The Young Guns ad plan was first reported by CommonWealth.

John Carroll of Boston University joins Jim Braude on Broadside to examine some presidential campaign ads.

Gov. Deval Patrick gets his moment in the spotlight tonight as he addresses the DNC just before the keynote address by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. The National Review says the hotel its staff was assigned to in North Carolina by the Democratic National Convention was a run-down, prostitute and drug-infested motel. They moved to one in South Carolina. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have patched up their feud: Clinton will give the speech putting the president’s name in nomination, something no former president has ever done. The Wall Street Journal argues that polarization in Washington has exacerbated Obama’s difficulty governing as an outsider, rather than a party man. The DNC will focus on widening Democrats’ advantage with women and Hispanics, while stemming the loss of white working-class men. David Bernstein argues that Republicans might be surprised by the answer to the question they’re asking, whether you’re better off than you were four years ago.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy takes a look at Obama’s record on key issues dealing with nonprofits.

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, in his weekly Globe column, says the Republican Party has willingly enabled the growth of dangerous, far-right extremists.

You’ve been on pins and needles waiting for it, and now it’s finally hereNew York magazine profiles Joe Biden.

Paul Krugman calls Paul Ryan the Rosie Ruiz of American politics.

FISHING

A new fish wholesale company in New Bedford is trying a different approach by guaranteeing a price to a boat for its catch before it leaves the dock.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A state investigation found that an $18 million renovation of the Boston Marriott Copley Place involved widespread violations of labor laws.

A Lowell nonprofit is helping immigrants get on a path to economic self-sufficiency through professional sewing skills.

Mass Mutual Life Insurance Co. is facing several lawsuits alleging that the firm didn’t afford policyholders their full rights to dividends and a say in voting for company directors.

The MetroWest Daily News suggests that income inequality could revive the moribund labor movement.

EDUCATION

Teacher evaluation changes are trickling down to the local level, the Sun reports.

The KnowAtom science course is credited for sharply higher results on standardized science tests, WBUR reports.

The new chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth shared her vision with the Fall River Herald News, saying her priority is continuing the school’s tradition of community engagement.

HEALTH CARE

Studies suggest organic food may not be healthier, NPR reports (via WBUR).

House calls by doctors are making a return on Cape Cod.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Nearly 50 cows were stolen from a Dartmouth farm Saturday night but 40 of them were recovered at an animal auction in Pennsylvania after the farm’s owner received a tip.