BOSTON — With just over a week until the special election in Massachusetts for the U.S. Senate, the candidates are taking markedly different approaches to reaching out to voters.
While Republican Gabriel Gomez gave voters a chance to meet him face to face on Saturday, Rep. Ed Markey campaigned with a big-name Democrat — former President Bill Clinton.
On Saturday, 900 people gathered at Worcester Polytechnic Institute to hear from the 42nd president of the United States.
“If I had known Ed Markey had become such an effective advocate on his own behalf, I could have stayed home and watched the U.S. Open today,” Clinton joked.
Clinton shared the stage with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Jim McGovern, Worcester Mayor Joe Petty and Markey himself.
“My opponent says that he is a new kind of Republican, but he backs the oldest, stalest Republican ideas from the past,” Markey said of Gomez. “It is like a golden oldie record when you listen to him.”
Instead of addressing hundreds of people as Markey did, Gomez spent the day addressing dozens at a series of smaller events, like meet-and-greets at farmers’ markets.
In Southbridge, 30 people showed up for Gomez’s town hall meeting with Latino voters. But Gomez said that’s the way he wants to run his campaign.
“I understand that somebody else is visiting the Worcester county area today. So I’m more than humbled and honored that you guys wanted to pick here to see me instead of — I guess it’s President Clinton as the last guy on Congressman Markey’s list of people to come to try and support him and prop him up,” Gomez told supporters. “But I understand Vice President Biden’s going to come in next week. I’m not exactly sure where in Massachusetts he’s going to be, but I think Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are next.”
While Gomez has appeared with a few high-profile republicans like Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, he has largely sought to distance himself from the party’s national leadership.
But Clinton made the connection between Gomez and the national Republican party Saturday night.
“He will vote for Mitch McConnell to be the leader of the Senate. All they need to know is that they’ve got somebody that’ll keep Mitch McConnell the leader, they’ve got somebody to invoke the filibuster rule anytime they want to shut the whole shebang down and that believes in their basic economic policy, which is trickle-down instead of build out and build up,” Clinton said.
Gomez offered a different explanation.
“Ed Markey is Washington D.C. So he’s got his neighbors, he’s got his army of D.C. coming up, one after the other. And me? I’ve got my patriots in Massachusetts,” Gomez said. “That’s why we’re going to win this way. This is really an invasion of D.C. And I think people understand just how unpopular and how broken D.C. is. So if he wants to obviously highlight the fact that he’s D.C. and that his supporters are D.C., more power to him.”
Gomez said neither House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell nor House Speaker John Boehner will be campaigning on his behalf, but he added that he’s ready to work with them in Washington.