Leading in the latest Suffolk University poll by seven points over U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday said she still wants to debate Brown one more time, and suggested Thursday night for the final matchup.
Brown, however, has yet to commit to a new date for the debate, and suggested to reporters following the senator on his tour of storm damage that a fourth meeting might not be necessary.
"Our focus over the next 48 hours must be on public safety and holding the utilities accountable for restoring power as soon as possible. Elizabeth believes that the final televised debate should occur, and we have contacted the debate organizers and let them know she would be available to participate on Thursday evening,” Warren campaign manager Mindy Myers said in a statement.
The fourth and final debate was scheduled for Tuesday night, a week before the Nov. 6 election. It was postponed Monday due to the lingering impact of Hurricane Sandy.
Brown was the first to withdraw Monday night, calling it “inappropriate” to proceed with the debate after the massive storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of residents and caused damage across the state.
Warren agreed that the debate should not be held Tuesday, but offered on Tuesday to reschedule for Thursday.
A Brown spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment, and debate organizers said they were still waiting to hear from Brown’s campaign.
“We’ve already had three debates. I had two radio debates that she didn’t participate in,” Brown said in Westport, according to the Boston Globe.
“There’s only a few days left and we have a very, very busy schedule,” Brown said.
Brown on Thursday plans to kick off a bus tour with Congressional candidate Richard Tisei and Rep. Don Wong (R-Saugus) in Wakefield. On Sunday, he plans meet-and-greet events in Weymouth, Waltham and Needham.
Warren on Tuesday had two public events, visiting flooded areas of Westport near Horseneck Beach and in Scituate. Brown, meanwhile, had a packed “Storm Relief Schedule” with seven events starting in the morning in Rehoboth with stops planned in Westport, South Dartmouth, Quincy, Newbury and Gloucester.
On Monday before withdrawing, Brown told reporters, “If it's appropriate, we will have it (Tuesday) or the next day or the next day. Certainly we're going to do it. I think the people will want to hear where we stand on all the final issues ... before the election,” according to the Associated Press.
The Suffolk/7News poll of likely general election voters showed Warren leading Brown with 53 percent to Brown’s 46 percent, up from the 4-point lead she held over Brown in the last Suffolk/7News poll in September.
Warren is also more popular among voters surveyed with 51 percent indicating they had a favorable opinion of the Harvard professor and consumer advocate compared to 45 percent who view Brown favorable. Thirty-six percent of voters had an unfavorable opinion of Warren compared to 42 percent for Brown.
"Elizabeth Warren is riding a final wave of momentum to the U.S. Senate," David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center said in a statement. "Unless something drastically changes in the final days before the election, you will be hearing the title 'Senator-elect' Warren instead of 'Professor' Warren."
Though Brown still leads Warren among independents, his margin in the latest Suffolk poll shrunk from 21 points to 11 points with the voting demographic that helped propel him into the Senate almost three years ago. Warren has made inroads among women independent voters, trailing Brown by three points after facing a 13-point hole in September.
The poll of 600 likely general election voters was conducted Oct. 25-28 and had a margin of error of 4 points.
While other polls have showed a tighter race in the final weeks of the campaign, Paleologos has the distinction of being the first pollster to show Brown leading Attorney General Martha Coakley by four points in the final days of the 2010 special election that Brown ultimately won by five points.
A Boston Globe-University of New Hampshire poll released Monday showed Brown leading Warren 45 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, and deadlocked at 47 percent when factoring in voters leaning towards a candidate.
In the Suffolk poll, President Barack Obama continued to hold a big lead over Mitt Romney in Romney's home state, with Obama up 63-31. Two ballot questions also appeared poised for passage with 74 percent of those surveyed favoring a question aimed at loosening access to auto repair information and a proposal legalizing the use of medical marijuana supported by a 55-36 margin.
The third question on the ballot, however, appears to be losing support with the Suffolk poll showing eroding support for the proposal to allow terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending medication with a prescription. While 47 percent support the ballot initiative compared to 41 percent opposed, the margin is considerably narrower than the 37-point spread shown in a poll taken in September.
The tightening of public opinion over the issues comes as the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide has funneled large sums of money into a media blitz in recent weeks, spending over $600,000 between Oct. 2 and Oct. 15 on advertisements opposing the question, according to Office of Campaign and Political Finance reports.
Steve Crawford, a spokesman for the Dignity 2012 Committee behind the ballot question, said that by election day the committee will also have spent $600,000 on media in support of the question, and remained confident they would prevail at the polls.
Adding to the momentum against the ballot measure, Vicki Kennedy penned an op-ed in Sunday’s Cape Cod Times, invoking her late husband Sen. Edward Kennedy and arguing that Question 2 “turns his vision of health care for all on its head.”
Kennedy wrote that the ballot question excludes families from the decision making process and would not apply to patients suffering with degenerative diseases like ALS. She also noted that doctors gave Sen. Kennedy two to four months to live after his brain cancer diagnosis, but he lived 15 “productive” months.
“When the end finally did come - natural death with dignity - my husband was home, attended by his doctor, surrounded by family and our priest. I know we were blessed. I am fully aware that not everyone will have the same experience we did. But if Question 2 passes I can't help but feel we're sending the message that they're not even entitled to a chance,” Kennedy wrote.
Ezekiel Emanuel, a former Obama official who served as an advisor to the president on bioethics during the health care debate, also came out against efforts in Massachusetts and New Jersey to legalize assisted suicide in a New York Times op-ed.