Elizabeth Warren 2012: Not Martha Coakley

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 25 2011 12:22 PM

Elizabeth Warren 2012: Not Martha Coakley

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Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Abby Goodnough reports on the pre-spinning of an Elizabeth Warren Senate bid, and finds that the early Republican attacks are so telegraphed that Samuel Morse could sue for intellectual property infringement.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Republicans have branded Ms. Warren a Harvard liberal and an outsider, stressing that she was born and raised in Oklahoma.
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Someone born in another state, and with a Harvard background? Surely the voters of Massachusetts would never go for that.

More seriously, if Republicans think they can Coakley-ize Warren, they're going to snow some lazy bloggers but they're not going to snow voters. Coakley was not a uniquely bad politician; she came from a uniquely bad farm system that produced politicians. She was the second consecutive Massaschuetts Democrat who won the high-profile job of Middlesex County DA, was promoted inside the party for the Attorney General nomination, and flopped like a wounded dolphin when she actually had a tough race against an innovative candidate. The other flop was Tom Reilly, the AG who was outplayed by Deval Patrick in the 2006 gubernatorial primary. Reilly was counting on the Democratic party's organization; Patrick, with no base, built his own. The 2010 U.S. Senate special played out along similar lines, because Coakley was counting on the machine to grind out a win, while Scott Brown, with no reliable Republican machine, had to practice entrepreneurial suburban politics. Everyone remembers Coakley's "What am I supposed to do, shake hands in the cold?" gaffe. No one remembers the whole quote.

As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands? This is a special election. And I know that I have the support of Kim Driscoll. And I now know the members of the [Salem] School Committee, who know far more people than I could ever meet.

Coakley was saying that she didn't need to hustle for votes, because the machine would do it for her. This is not something Warren can do or say.

*Corrected: I originally said "Suffolk" County.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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