Turnout, Tone Differ In 4th District Rallies

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Star power was at work for the candidates in the 4th Congressional District race this weekend, as both incumbent Democratic Rep. Barney Frank and Republican challenger Sean Bielat brought in high-profile political figures.

WBUR's Deb Becker spent time with both campaigns.

Bob Oakes: Did the stars do what they were supposed to — drive up turnout by supporters? What was it like at these campaign events. Were they different?

Deb Becker: In terms of turnout and tone, they were very different.

The largest draw was a Saturday morning rally in Foxborough where hundreds of people gathered to show support for the GOP ticket. It felt more like a concert than a political rally with Sen. Scott Brown the headliner, wearing his trademark barn jacket and trying to stoke the same anti-establishment spirit that propelled him to victory just 10 months ago. Bielat told the crowd that supporting him Tuesday is a vote for a traditional values.

Individual prosperity, individual liberty, personal responsibility, accountability — these are the things that as Americans we demand from our government and this is the year we can turn it around, change the direction we're on, and return to those values.

How about Frank?

Much different, much quieter. Frank also campaigned with some high-profile Democrats. On Sunday, he addressed about 60 people at an apartment complex in Dartmouth where he appeared with Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Throughout the weekend, Frank emphasized the work he's done for the district on things like fishing regulations, health care and the financial reform bill he worked on with Brown.

When Scott Brown voted for the bill because he thought we had done a good job with a general protection and protecting Massachusetts, Sean Bielat put out a statement attacking him. It's very unusual for one Republican to attack another but that's how deeply committed he is to deregulation. I've got an opponent who wants to privatize Social Security, raise the retirement age — that's how he wants to deal with the deficit.

Frank also said he's the target of some of the meanest people in America and he asked his supporters to cast ballots against nasty campaigns.

The latest polls put Frank at least 10 points ahead of Bielat. What are voters saying about where the race stands, and about how they're making their decisions?

Teresa Barboza, of Dartmouth, says Frank's record and experience will win her vote.

I think it's outrageous it's a tough race. He just has so much more credentials than his opponent. I really do.

But Bielat supporters bring it all back to Brown's January election and say this was just the start of a Republican wave in Massachusetts. Tina Casamer is from Sharon:

You know, I was in synagogue the Saturday after Scott Brown got elected and there were thumbs up and high-fives all over the sanctuary — in a synagogue, in Sharon. I was blown away. There was complete happiness.

What both candidates did to was urge people to vote. With more than 51 percent of Massachusetts voters unenrolled, there could be a lot of surprises Tuesday.

This program aired on November 1, 2010.

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Deborah Becker Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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