BOSTON President Obama renewed criticism of Republicans and urged voters to keep the nation moving forward at a rally for Gov. Deval Patrick’s re-election campaign on Saturday.
Thousands crowded into the Hynes Convention Center in Boston to cheer the governor and get a glimpse of the president. In speeches, both politicians worked to channel voter anger at the economy into a win for the incumbent governor.
Mr. Obama’s appearance was a personal favor for a political ally and friend.
“The reason I came today isn’t just because Deval has been there for me as a friend,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s because he continues to inspire me as a leader.”
Mr. Obama has been stumping for candidates across the nation ahead of the midterm elections. The last time the president tried to rally support for a Democrat in Massachusetts was alongside Attorney General Martha Coakley in her bid for the U.S. Senate seat in January.
Throughout his speech, Mr. Obama noted achievements in the state in education and job growth. But he also criticized national Republicans, saying they have promised to return to their agenda that was in place before he took office.
“It’s an agenda that turned a record surplus into a record deficit,” he said. “An agenda that let Wall Street run wild at the expense of folks on Main Street. An agenda that nearly destroyed our economy.”
Without naming Patrick’s opponents, the president ticked off a list of things they would eliminate, like unemployment benefits for thousands of people and investments in education and clean energy.
“It is the same theory the other side has been peddling for years and it is up to us to tell them we don’t want what they are selling,” Mr. Obama told the crowd. “We’ve been there, we’ve tried it, we don’t like it and we’re not going back.”
Both Mr. Obama and Patrick acknowledged voter frustration and anger, but kept returning to themes that the Republican policies would undo much of the progress that the state and the nation have made coming out of the recession.
“Four years ago, we worked hard to change the guard,” Patrick said. “Now we need to work to guard the change.”
Patrick touted the successes of his administration, saying when the going got tough, they made choices to invest in education, health care and job creation.
“And that is why today, we lead the nation in student achievement and health care coverage for our residents,” Patrick said. “That is why today we are creating jobs faster than every other state in America — 65,000 jobs this year alone.”
And in trying to win a second term, the governor says there’s still work to be done.
“I won’t be satisfied,” Patrick said, working into the fever-pitch of a Sunday preacher. “I won’t be satisfied until we bear our generational responsibility. Our responsibility to leave this place better than we found it. To lift one another up instead of tearing everybody down. And let me tell you, you shouldn’t be satisfied either. That’s the choice. That’s the choice we have in this election.”
The most recent Suffolk University poll shows Patrick leading Republican rival Charles Baker by seven points. The poll has independent candidate and state Treasurer Tim Cahill with a modest 10 percent of votes and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein in fourth.
The Baker campaign dismissed the power of the president stumping for the governor.
“Obama’s visit is symbolic of the momentum of the Baker campaign,” said a spokesman for Baker.
The essential challenge for both the incumbent president and governor is to turn anti-incumbent feeling into faith in strong leadership, in time for elections next month.