• Mass. Senate race enters final week of campaigning


    BOSTON (AP) - The U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts is entering its final stretch with a question mark hanging over a fourth and final debate and a new poll showing Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren holding a slight edge over Republican incumbent Scott Brown.

    Warren has agreed to participate in a rescheduled debate on Thursday, but Brown has refused to say whether he would attend.

    The debate originally was set for Tuesday, but was delayed after first Brown and then Warren said they didn't want to take part at a time when many residents were struggling with the effects of a powerful storm that lashed the East Coast.

    On Tuesday, Warren's campaign manager Mindy Myers released a statement saying that while "our focus over the next 48 hours must be on public safety and holding the utilities accountable for restoring power," Warren has contacted debate organizers and agreed to the Thursday match-up.

    Brown, who toured portions of the state Tuesday to survey storm damage, referred questions about the debate back to campaign staff, who haven't responded to requests for comment.

    "If you want to talk about storm stuff, happy to do it. If you want to talk about the campaign stuff, call the campaign," he said. "I've already had three debates. So we had two others that she didn't show up to. So obviously we've done debates, but we also have a schedule and we have limited time."

    The comments came a day after Brown said there "certainly" would be a final debate.

    "If it's appropriate, we will have it (Tuesday) or the next day or the next day," Brown told reporters early Monday. "Certainly, we're going to do it. I think the people will want to hear where we stand on all the final issues ... before the election."

    Brown also said last week that he would have no problem attending the final debate, even offering Warren a lift to the event in the same pickup truck he's used in political ads. "That's why I have a truck: It has four-wheel drive," Brown said. "If she needs a ride, happy to pick her up. I'll be there providing the electricity is on."

    Also Tuesday, a Suffolk University and WHDH-TV poll showed Warren with an apparent lead. She had support from 53 percent of likely general election voters compared with 46 percent for Brown. The poll of 600 likely Massachusetts general election voters had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. It was conducted Oct. 25-28.

    Other polls have reflected a tighter race.

    The Boston Globe released a poll Monday showing Brown and Warren in a dead heat. That poll showed each candidate receiving the support of 47 percent of those polled, including voters who are undecided but said which candidate they are leaning toward. Among that poll's likely voters Brown received the support of 45 percent compared with 43 percent for Warren.

    The poll of 583 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was conducted from Wednesday through Sunday.

    Warren also spent much of Tuesday touring the state to assess storm damage.

    Brown began the day with a visit to an operations center in Rehoboth before touring Westport, visiting the Dartmouth Council on Aging and touring Quincy and Plum Island before heading to a Red Cross shelter in Newbury and visiting Gloucester.

    Warren planned visits to flooded areas near Horseneck Beach in Westport and in Scituate.

    In Quincy, Brown deflected a question about whether he was using multiple appearances after the storm as a chance to boost his visibility ahead of Election Day.

    "I'm the senator from Massachusetts and I have an obligation to, you know, do what I've done in other storms," Brown said.

    He said he saw destroyed homes in Westport, where he said a lot of roads weren't passable and lots of wires were down. He said the biggest concern around the state was restoring power and water service in places where there were outages.

    On the whole, Massachusetts faired relatively well, he said. "We were very, very lucky. Other states weren't so lucky."

    The storm plunged hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents into darkness, but the state otherwise escaped the full brunt of its fury. Gov. Deval Patrick said the state may be able to lend a hand to other states that were in the direct path of the storm.

    The Massachusetts race is the most expensive in the state's history.

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