BOSTON - Consumer advocate and former Obama administration official Elizabeth Warren squared off with Democratic rivals in her first political debate on Tuesday as she campaigns to unseat Republican Scott Brown in next year's Massachusetts Senate race.


Democrats are eager to take back the seat Brown won in an upset in a January 2010 special election after the death of longtime Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy in 2009.

Warren, who locked horns with Wall Street in her work setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has won the backing of national progressive groups since jumping into the race in September. On Monday, she was endorsed by Massachusetts Democratic Representative Niki Tsongas.

Two recent polls of potential Democratic primary voters gave Warren a solid lead in the race for her party's nomination in the September 2012 primary.

Warren stuck close to the populist themes she used in launching her campaign: fighting for the middle class and reining in the power of Wall Street.

"What this has been about from the beginning, for me, is middle-class families," Warren said. "This is my life's work."

Joining Warren on Tuesday were Bob Massie, an entrepreneur and one-time candidate for lieutenant governor; Alan Khazei, co-founder of the City Year youth program; Tom Conroy, a state legislator; Marisa DeFranco, an immigration lawyer; and Herb Robinson, an engineer.

A new survey by UMass Lowell and the Boston Herald showed Warren trailing Brown by 41 percent to 38 percent, within the poll's margin of error.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)

Source: Reuters US Online Report Politics News

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