Massachusetts Democrats are putting up a united front after Attorney General Martha Coakley topped the field of four candidates seeking their party's nomination to the U.S. Senate seat once held by the late Edward M. Kennedy.
One by one, the three vanquished Democrats heaped praise on the newly minted nominee at a Democratic unity event Wednesday at the Omni Parker House in downtown Boston.
Alan Khazei described Coakley as a "class act." Steve Pagliuca said she will be able to fill Kennedy's shoes. Congressman Michael Capuano called her a "good person" and a "good attorney general" who will make a "fantastic senator."
"There's no way in hell we're going to elect a Republican to Ted Kennedy's seat," Capuano said. "Period." He said he was often asked by pundits during the campaign why he didn't attack Coakley or say something bad about her. "What do you want me to say?" Capuano added. "I like her."
Coakley returned the praise for her former rivals, and said she benefited from the primary race.
"I am a much better candidate, and will be a much better senator because of the test that we all gave to each other through this," Coakley said. "We were friends, we will be friends going forward."
While Coakley is heavily favored to beat her Republican opponent, state Sen. Scott Brown in the Jan. 19 special election, she cautioned her fellow Democrats not to take anything for granted.
"We are going to start today for Jan. 19," Coakley said, "to get our message out to voters that this economy is a mess and that we need to go after Wall Street and get good regulations and turn the economy around — and get jobs."
Brown, meanwhile, publicly promised not to raise taxes by signing the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and urged Coakley to do the same.
"I don't get involved in campaign gimmicks," Coakley said when asked by a reporter if she would sign the pledge. "I think that people want to hear how you think about the issues. People understand that both the government and the economy is in trouble right now. I'm going to take a thoughtful and a good approach to what we need to do."
This program aired on December 9, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.