On Thursday's The Rachel Maddow Show, outgoing Democratic Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) ripped Republican Senator Scott Brown for his personal attacks on Democratic opponent Elizabeth Warren and her disputed Native American ancestry.
Warren is Brown's Democratic challenger in this year's Massachusetts Senate race—one of the most closely watched in the nation, and a competition which may very well decide which party controls the Senate in the 113th Congress. The two contestants had their first debate on Thursday night.
"Professor Warren claimed that she's a Native American and a person of color, and as you can see, she's not," Brown said during that debate. "But the fact is, she checked a box."
Warren, a progressive hero, once claimed on a Harvard job application that she was part Cherokee. She later clarified that she was 1/32 Native American, saying she had been told as much by her mother, and had taken that fact at face value.
Warren's counter to Brown's attack? Brown is a “nice" man, and she hopes their contest can focus on the issues.
During the debate, Brown also razzed Warren about the robust Ivy League income she and her husband earn. “No wonder costs are high” at colleges, Brown said.
Frank, who is retiring from the House this year, told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that he was deeply disappointed by Brown's "snarky" remarks, especially considering that America is struggling economically and is in the middle of a war. Frank said the "personal attack" is "not really consistent with the nice guy image he's put forward. "
He also pointed out that, in deep-blue Massachusetts, Brown is trying to distance himself from his own party's brand. You "couldn't get him to say the word Romney with a subpoena," the notoriously quick-witted congressman said.
Maddow also criticized Brown's remarks about Warren's heritage. "I feel like it's racially offensive to say 'I can tell you're not Native American. Look at you,'" she said.
Frank said Brown was trying to, "delegitimize your opponent, rather than debate the issues when you think the issues go against you."
According to four recent polls, Warren has a small lead against Brown. A fifth poll had Brown leading.