Massachusetts Senate candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, and her opponent State Rep. Geoff Diehl shake hands before a debate in Boston, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Democratic Sen. Warren, GOP challenger clash in debate

October 19, 2018 - 9:07 pm

BOSTON (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her Republican challenger, Massachusetts state Rep. Geoff Diehl, clashed on everything from tax cuts to immigration to Warren's decision to release a DNA test during their first debate Friday.

The meeting was combative at times, with the candidates challenging each other and sometimes talking over one another.

Diehl faulted Warren during the televised debate for opposing the Republican-led tax bill, which he said benefited local taxpayers and businesses.

"Eighty percent of Massachusetts residents are getting a tax cut, lower taxes federally, because of that tax reform," Diehl said. "That's why we're seeing, now, businesses reinvesting."

Warren said the bill works for billionaires and corporations — and not enough for ordinary taxpayers — while expanding the deficit, which she said is giving Republicans a reason to target cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

"This is the basic Republican scam and that is cut taxes for those at the top and make everyone else pay for it," she said. "This economy is working better and better and better for a thinner and thinner and thinner slice at the top."

Warren, a possible 2020 presidential candidate running for a second six-year term in the Senate, defended her decision to release DNA test results this week that provide some evidence a Native American is in her bloodline.

Warren released the tests in part to counter President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized Warren's claims of Native American heritage, calling her "Pocahontas."

Warren also said she released the tests for the same reason that she put 10 years of her tax returns online and released her hiring records from her career as a law professor.

"The whole notion of confidence in government has really gone to a low point and so for me, what I've done is I've just tried to put it all out there," she said. "I am an open book."

Diehl, who co-chaired President Donald Trump's 2016 Massachusetts presidential campaign, said he didn't care about Warren's heritage, but suggested Warren may have benefited from listing her Native American heritage in a national directory.

"It seems that maybe that was inappropriate to list yourself," Diehl said, suggesting that Warren may have ended up "taking a minority hire position away from somebody else.

Warren said that "nothing in my background ever made any difference in my hiring." She also criticized Diehl for not releasing his tax returns.

On immigration, Diehl said Warren supports eliminating U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Warren said she backs a comprehensive approach to immigration and border security.

Independent candidate Shiva Ayyadurai is also on the ballot, and has protested to be allowed onto the debate stage. On Friday he sat in the road as the car carrying Warren approached the debate, which was broadcast on WSBK-TV.

There are two more scheduled debates before Election Day.