On Saturday Bill Clinton appeared at a campaign rally in Worcester, Massachusetts to prop up the lackluster campaign of Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), the Democratic nominee in next Tuesday’s special election to replace John Kerry in the Senate. Recent polls show that Markey’s Republican opponent, former Navy Seal Gabriel Gomez, is within striking distance. Democratic party officials, concerned that Gomez could pull off a Scott Brown style upset victory, have called in all the big names of the party and revved up their attack ads on Gomez in recent weeks.
On Wednesday President Obama campaigned with Markey in Boston. In May, First Lady Michelle Obama made a campaign appearance as the featured speaker at a Markey fundraiser held at the Taj Hotel in Boston. This coming week Vice President Joe Biden is expected to join the parade of Washington based Democratic party leaders coming to Massachusetts to rescue Markey.
Former President Clinton told the crowd of several hundred who gathered Saturday on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute “[t]he whole country is looking to see if last year’s election (of President Obama) is just one of those passing things. We’ve got to be tough. Don’t you let one person you know refuse to vote on June 25.”
Clinton added that “you’ve got to be good to yourselves and your children and the best way to do that is to get Ed Markey to the U.S. Senate. . . You’ve got to vote for someone that has ideas that (are) actually going to do something, and Ed Markey has proven that he has those kinds of ideas.”
For Republicans nationally, the Markez-Gomez race is seen as a referendum on the Obama administration, which has been plagued by several significant scandals at the start of its second term, ranging from the NSA surveillance on private phone records of millions of Americans, snooping on AP reporters and James Rosen of FoxNews, to the IRS targeting of tea party groups. Several scandals from the first term, including the scandal surrounding the integrity administration’s handling of the terrorist attack on our mission in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, still linger.
Clinton brought a lot of charisma and star power to Massachusetts for a day, but if it is not clear if any of that star power will translate to more votes for Markey. Several of those in attendance seemed more interested in the former president and his wife than they were in Markey’s chances of winning the Senate seat.
Catherine Chaput of Leominster, was one of those who attended the rally and seemed more enamored of Clinton than Markey. “I’m so excited (about seeing Clinton) and I really hope that his wife runs for president.” she told the Boston Herald.
On Thursday, Gabriel Gomez, Markey’s Republican opponent, told Boston radio talk show host Howie Carr that Markey is “bringing in his neighbors. This is all his DC army. He’s got his army from DC, I’ve got my patriots from Massachusetts.”
Markey has served as a Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts for 37 years, and according to Gomez spends little time in his native state. Gomez describes Markey as a man who lives in Bethesda Maryland, an expensive suburb of Washington, D.C., and visits Massachusetts so infrequently he is unfamiliar with its current terrain or populace.
“They’re scared beyond their wits,” Gomez told Carr, speaking of the Markey campaign team. “His whole campaign is based on deception . .. you only do that when you’re scared and you can’t talk about your own record.”
At Saturday’s event in Worcester, former President Clinton attempted to deflect Gomez’s criticism of Markey’s long tenure in Congress. “He’s done a good job every day he’s been there,” Clinton said of Markey’s service in Congress.
Massachusetts voters will get to make up their own mind on election day, June 25, about the quality of Markey’s service in Washington as compared to Gomez’s record in the military and private sector. Recent polls show the race remains tight. One poll has Markey up by 7 points, another calls the race a virtual dead heat.
Image: Patrick Johnson, The Republican