The final debate between Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren has been canceled, as superstorm Sandy slammed the East Coast and a new poll shows the race deadlocked with seven days remaining.
Colin Reed, Brown's communications director, released the following statement:
"It is unfortunate that nature intervened in a way we all agreed made it inappropriate to carry on with the scheduled debate. With only days remaining in the campaign, and with a long-planned bus tour kicking off Thursday through Election Day that will take Scott Brown to every corner of the Commonwealth, our calendar simply cannot accommodate a rescheduling of this fourth debate and the planning and preparation that would go into it. Senator Brown is pleased to have participated in three major televised debates, and regrets that Professor Warren refused two additional earlier debate opportunities that he accepted."
"It is unfortunate voters will not have the chance to hear from both candidates on the important issues facing Massachusetts," Mindy Myers, campaign manager for Elizabeth Warren, said in a statement. "Elizabeth was working with the debate organizers to move forward on Thursday. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Scott Brown is again ducking questions about his record voting on the side of big oil and billionaires and against equal pay for equal work, against a pro-choice Supreme Court Justice and against insurance coverage for birth control. Elizabeth agreed to additional debates that Brown refused in Worcester and the South Coast as well as a forum hosted by the NAACP. Scott Brown doesn't want to have to talk about his record - plain and simple."
The final debate, scheduled for Tuesday, was canceled because of superstorm Sandy, leaving the candidates without a final opportunity for a face-to-face discussion about campaign issues amid undecided voters.
A Boston Globe poll released Monday shows the candidates tied at 47 percent, following the paper’s September poll in which Brown trailed by 5 percentage points.
The race has been one of most expensive and compelling of the 2012 election cycle, with Republicans trying to gain four Senate seats to take control of the chamber.
Brown is seeking re-election after his surprising victory in 2010 in the special election for the open seat of Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Warren has faced accusations of trying to use her American Indian heritage to get a teaching job at Harvard Law School, while Brown tries to win a second term in a strongly Democratic state.
Warren said that her parents told her growing up that her mother was part Cherokee and part Delaware Indian and that as a child she never questioned that story.
Both candidates postponed campaigning Monday. Brown said he was working to make sure the state received any federal help needed while Warren closed all her field offices and asked her staff and volunteers to be ready to assist if needed.
Late Monday, Brown announced he wouldn't be attending Tuesday's fourth and final debate, sponsored by a consortium of Boston media outlets.
A Brown spokesman said the senator decided against the debate "out of concern for the hardship faced by people in the path of Hurricane Sandy."
"It is simply not appropriate to go forward with a political debate when a disaster strikes. The focus for all of us before, during and after the storm needs to be on emergency response and disaster relief, not campaigns and politics," spokesman Colin Reed said in a statement.
Brown said he would "certainly" participate in another debate before voters go to the polls next week.
"If it's appropriate, we will have it,” he said. “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."
Brown last week even offered Warren a lift to the debate should Sandy have created tough driving conditions.
"That's why I have a truck,” he said.
Myers said Warren also agreed the debate should not have been held Tuesday.
The full force of the storm largely spared Massachusetts.
An averaging of polls by the website RealClearPolitics has Warren leading by 3.7 percentage points.
The Boston Globe poll included voters who are undecided, but said which candidate they are leaning toward supporting.
Among the poll's likely voters, Brown received 45 percent, compared with 43 percent for Warren, well within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The poll of 583 likely voters was conducted from Wednesday through Sunday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.