Democrats have watched Attorney General Martha Coakley's lead in the polls evaporate in the last few weeks and on Sunday they pulled out all the stops, as President Obama attended a rally for Coakley's U.S. Senate campaign at Northeastern University's Cabot Center.
The rally featured a "who’s who" of Massachusetts Democrats. Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. John Kerry and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, Vicki, all spoke. But it was Mr. Obama who showed that he can still rile up a crowd like it’s the final week of the New Hampshire primary.
"Understand what’s at stake here, Massachusetts," Obama said. "It’s whether we are going forward or going backwards. It’s whether we are going to have a future where everybody gets a shot in this society or just the privileged few. If you were fired up in the last election, I need you even more fired up in this election."
Throughout the rally, the recurring symbol Democrats used to blast Republican Scott Brown was his truck, which is featured in one of his television ads. In the ad, Brown says his old truck has brought him closer to the people of Massachusetts. But Obama said that because Brown opposes a bank bailout tax, he's parked his truck with Wall Street bankers.
"Despite the rhetoric, despite the television ads, despite the truck, Martha’s going to make sure you get your money back," Obama said. "She’s got your back. Her opponent’s got Wall Street’s back."
Obama said that he needs Coakley in the Senate, where one vote can make the difference on some of his major agenda items, including banking regulations, climate change and his health care reform plan.
"I would think long and hard about getting into that truck with Martha’s opponent," Obama continued. "It might not take you where you want to go. And where we don’t want to go right now is backwards to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place, when we just started to make progress cleaning it up."
Speaking to the crowd, Obama cited Coakley's track record in taking on bankers, predatory lenders, insurance companies and protecting children as a prosecutor and then as the state's attorney general.
As the president spoke, Coakley stood on the side of the stage, smiling. When she addressed the crowd, she said she was on the side of taxpayers. But she got the biggest reaction from the crowd when she directly attacked Brown.
Other Democratic voices also spoke for Coakley at the Sunday rally. Rep. Michael Capuano, Coakley's rival in the Democratic primary for this special general election, praised her record. He chided Brown for saying that he's an independent Republican when he voted with the Republican leadership on Beacon Hill 96 percent of the time.
Kennedy indicated what she thought her late husband would say about the race, while Kerry also poked fun at Brown's truck, adding that it probably had a "Bush/Cheney" bumper sticker on it.
After the rally, several people said they felt excited to work hard for a Democratic victory on Tuesday.
Attendee Ron Larrivee said that Mr. Obama's visit made a difference to him. "I think he really did indicate or lay out some points that were really important for us to think about," Larrivee said. "I think he did a great job supporting her and thank God it happened."
State Sen. Brown held a concurrent rally in Worcester that featured sports stars Curt Schilling and Doug Flutie. He later issued a statement that went back to his truck, saying that, in this economy, not everybody can buy a truck. The statement said that Brown's goal is to change that economy by cutting spending, lowering taxes and letting people keep more of their own money.
On Sunday, Coakley also made campaign stops in Pittsfield, Springfield and Framingham.
This program aired on January 17, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.