By Joe Battenfeld
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren are set to meet in what’s sure to be a nationally watched UMass Lowell/Herald debate this fall.
The Sept. 27 debate is set to be moderated by NBC’s “Meet the Press” anchor David Gregory at the Tsongas Center on the University of Massachusetts at Lowell campus.
The one-hour debate before a student audience will be offered for live broadcast to all local, cable and network stations, as well as radio and the Web.
Warren’s campaign agreed to the debate offer yesterday, followed by Brown’s campaign last night.
“Elizabeth has consistently advocated for four televised debates to give the people of Massachusetts the chance to see the clear difference between her support for middle class families and Scott Brown’s support for Wall Street,” Warren strategist Doug Rubin said in a statement. “We look forward to a Herald debate in the fall hosted by David Gregory.”
Brown’s campaign said the debate is the final offer he will accept in this campaign.
“Senator Brown has now committed to six debates, including the two radio debates Professor Warren has refused to accept. By Election Day, Senator Brown will have participated in six debates – the most of any incumbent Massachusetts Senator in 16 years,” Brown campaign spokesman Colin Reed said in a statement.
Herald publisher Patrick J. Purcell said he is happy both candidates have accepted.
“This campaign is extra-ordinarily important to the citizens of Massachusetts,” Purcell said. “The Herald is thrilled to provide an opportunity for voters — especially the young people at UMass Lowell — to hear first-hand a conversation about the issues that will have great impact not only on the Bay State, but on the future of our nation.”
Brown and Warren’s agreement appears to end the long-running standoff over televised debates.
It comes after an attempt by Victoria Kennedy, the widow of the late senator, to host a debate at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute fell apart after she refused to agree to Brown’s demand that she stay neutral in the race.
The dispute escalated tensions between both camps over the debate schedule, but Warren’s acceptance of the Herald offer paved the way for the showdown at UMass- Lowell.
Warren, who had criticized the Herald for publishing columns questioning the “nonpartisan” nature of the Kennedy debate, was the first to accept the Herald offer yesterday.
UMass-Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan, a former Democratic congressman, has pledged to remain neutral in the Senate race.
“We are excited to host this important debate between the candidates, especially because of the vibrant atmosphere that the Tsongas Center will provide,” Meehan said. “The event offers an important opportunity to educate and engage our students in the electoral process, as well as to bring the candidates to the people of the Merrimack Valley.”