Republican Sen. Scott Brown is shifting strategy and going into attack mode as the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts heats up. Brown took direct aim at Democratic contender Elizabeth Warren for the first time in a new television ad. The 30-second spot has TV reporters questioning Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry.

“Elizabeth Warren is trying to put questions about her heritage behind her. Warren admitted to identifying herself as Native American, something genealogists have said they have zero evidence of.”


The ad marks a shift in Brown’s campaign strategy. He has built his candidacy around a good-guy persona. Brown's ads up until now have had a warm, personal quality. They show the senator as a down-to-earth family man and a moderate who reaches across the aisle.

Warren addressed her heritage in an interview with WTKK in Boston (listen online). She said she believes she’s part Native American based on family lore, but she never used her heritage to get into college or get a job: "I know what I know from my family. But I didn’t check a box to go to college. I didn’t check a box to go to law school. The only box I ever checked was in a directory. I didn’t take anyone’s job."

Brown’s more-combative style was also on display during the debate with Warren last week. Here’s a clip of Brown attacking Warren for legal work she did for Traveler’s insurance when the company was facing massive asbestos poisoning claims:

"You chose to side with one of the biggest corporations in the United States, Travelers Insurance. When you worked to prohibit people who got asbestos poisoning — I hope all the asbestos union workers are watching right now. She helped travelers deny those benefits for asbestos poisoning."

In 2009, Warren did work on a settlement that relieved Travelers of all future liability in exchange for a $500 million payout for asbestos victims. After she left the case, Travelers won another court ruling that allowed it to avoid paying the victims.

In the WTKK interview, Warren said she had no way of knowing Travelers wouldn’t pay up.

For her part, Warren has mostly avoided going after Brown’s character. She’s trying to make the campaign a referendum on Brown’s voting record and the Republican agenda. According to three of four polls taken before the debate, Warren is inching ahead of Brown in the high-profile U.S. Senate race. But her lead is still within the polls' margin of error and the race is still very close.