Scott Brown’s unforced error
What in the world was Scott Brown thinking?
In a campaign appearance in Taunton on Wednesday, Brown charged that paid actors were portraying relatives of victims of asbestos-related illnesses in television ads for his opponent, Elizabeth Warren. “A lot of them are paid,” Brown said, according to the Taunton Gazette, when asked by a Taunton firefighter why victims’ family members were appearing in Warren ads. “We hear that maybe they pay actors. Listen, you can get surrogates and go out and say your thing. We have regular people in our commercials. No one is paid. They are regular folks that reach out to us and say she is full of it.”
The Warren campaign wasted no time jumping on the claim, producing statements from three people who appeared in the ads saying that they are neither actors nor were they paid for their appearance. “Let Scott Brown tell me to my face that I am nothing but a ‘paid actor,’ and I’ll set him straight on what it was like to watch my father suffocate to death,” said one of them, John English, who says his father died of mesothelioma.
The ads stem from criticism Warren has faced for her work on behalf of Travelers Insurance in a complicated lawsuit in which the company was seeking immunity from asbestos-related claims in exchange for establishing a $500 million fund for victims to draw from. The company gained immunity but ended up not establishing the victim fund, a move made after Warren was no longer involved in the case. Brown has charged that she should have anticipated the company might try to renege on the deal. Most victims and their families, however, felt Warren was fighting for their interests — and that’s the message delivered by family members in her campaign ads.
Esquire’s Charlie Pierce headlines his scathing post on the matter “Senator McDreamy’s No-Good, Very-Bad Day.” He wonders why the Brown campaign has taken the most valuable asset it had going — a candidate with a high approval ratings and an outwardly genial personality — and set it ablaze with edgy attacks at every turn, regardless, it turns out, of whether the charges even have any credible basis.
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