Tales from the Trail

Scott Brown’s latest channels poet Langston Hughes

Scott Brown, locked in a tight race to hold onto his Senate seat from Massachusetts, has become the second Republican in the current election cycle to channel Langston Hughes, the African American social activist poet with Communist sympathies who is also regarded as a literary hero by many in the gay community.

A new video from Brown, soliciting donations for his neck-and-neck campaign against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, is headlined “Let America Be America Again” – the title of Hughes’ well-known 1935 poem, first published in Esquire magazine, that suggests the American dream never really existed for many Americans, including the lower classes, blacks, Native Americans, and other minority groups.

“There’s never been equality for me/Nor freedom in this ‘homeland of the free,’” Hughes writes in an aside between verses. “America never was America to me.”

The Brown campaign’s two and a half minute video tribute to small business, complete with stirring music and iconic images such as flags and white picket fences, chronicles what it portrays as a change in the United States from the words of John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Lyndon Johnson – Democrats all – as well as Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, to current President Barack Obama and Warren, his uber-progressive rival.

After showing Old Glory lying sadly in a grey landscape, the video cuts to soundbites from Warren and Obama talking about how those who succeeded in business had help along the way.

Scott Brown jabs Elizabeth Warren’s Hollywood supporters

Republican Scott Brown, in a close race to keep his Senate seat in Massachusetts, is mounting a new fundraising drive using donations to rival Elizabeth Warren by a bevy of Hollywood talent as catnip for potential donors.

“What do actresses Charlize Theron, Sally Field, Kyra Sedgwick, Kate Capshaw, and Reese Witherspoon have in common? ” Brown asked rhetorically in an email to supporters on Thursday. “They’re all big bankrollers for Professor Elizabeth Warren who raises money like she wants to be the first United States Senator to represent Hollywood.”

The Brown campaign is smarting after trailing Warren in the second quarter. For April-June, Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and former Obama administration official, raised $8.67 million to Brown’s $5 million. Brown still holds a $2 million advantage in cash on hand for the final months of the closely watched Senate campaign.

Scott Brown trails Elizabeth Warren in Q2 donations

The race for the Senate seat from Massachusetts is shaping up as one of the marquee Congressional contests of the year, and likely the most expensive, as both candidates keep up a frenetic fundraising pace.

On Thursday, the campaign of Republican Senator Scott Brown said it hauled in $5 million for his re-election campaign in the second quarter – a strong result, but well short of his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, who on Monday announced she had pulled in $8.67 million for the quarter.

Warren raised $3.1 million for June alone, suggesting a weeks-long controversy over whether she had claimed Native American heritage to further her academic career did little to dent her popularity.

MA governor puts Romney in healthcare bear hug

Before there was Obamacare with its controversial individual mandate on health insurance, there was Romneycare in Massachusetts…with a similar mandate that all residents of the state obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. And Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was happy to remind Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, of that fact on Thursday.

After the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the centerpiece of Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul, Patrick – a key Obama surrogate – met with reporters and expressed shock at the negative spin that Romney, his predecessor in the Massachusetts governor’s mansion, continues to put on federal legislation that is similar to the state law he once championed.

Patrick said that the motivations of Congress in taking up healthcare legislation in 2009 were “the same reasons our legislature and Governor Romney acted in 2006.”

Obama campaign attacks Romney for raising fees as governor

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Massachusetts Democratic state lawmakers closed a budget shortfall by closing corporate tax loopholes and raising fees, the latter of which was attacked in a television advertisement the Obama campaign released on Wednesday.

The ad — titled “Mosaic” — hit Romney, who has said on the stump that he closed the budget shortfall without raising taxes, for raising state fees on everything from marriage licenses to gun permits when he was governor of The Bay State for one term starting in 2003.

“When Governor Romney says we balanced the budget without increasing revenues, that’s not true at all,” said Andrew Bagley, Director of Research and Public Affairs at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a non-partisan research group. “Let’s put it this way, corporations paid more taxes after changes to the tax policy.”

Robert Pozen says not running for Senate – but perhaps could be convinced

Boston correspondent Ross Kerber interviewed mutual fund industry veteran Robert Pozen and they talked politics.

Pozen says he’s not running so far for the Senate seat from Massachusetts once held by the late Edward Kennedy. But he does appear to be positioning himself as a possible centrist candidate for Democrats mulling how to defeat Republican Senator Scott Brown in next year’s election. USA/

“I’m not running for Senate unless the Democratic Party asks me to, if they want someone who is socially liberal and fiscally disciplined,” Pozen told us in an interview at his office at MFS Investment Management, the Boston fund company where he is now Chairman Emeritus.

Media relations eclipse rhetoric as bare-knuckle politics

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The campaign rhetoric couldn’t be harsher, what with the talk about who’s a whore and who’s a nut job and who cheated on who’s ex-wife. (Remember when ‘who’ was just the guy on first?)

But nowadays the real bare-knuckle politics appears to be between the candidates and the news media.

Take the Senate campaign in Alaska. Tea Party Republican Joe Miller won’t talk to the press about his past as a public official. And when a journalist wouldn’t stop asking about it over the weekend, Miller’s private security team intervened.

Maddow to Brown: Wrong, “I’m not running”

Political commentator Rachel Maddow is used to having her say. This time she used a full-page ad in The Boston Globe.

The popular liberal TV host came out swinging on Friday against the new senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, who has suggested in a fund-raising letter that Maddow will run against him in 2012. SENATE/BROWN

“I’m not running against Scott Brown … It’s just not true. Honestly. I swear. No, really,” Maddow said in the ad.