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Coakley Says Baker Should Answer Questions Around Fisherman Story02:21
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Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker answers questions Friday afternoon at his campaign headquarters in Brighton. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker answers questions Friday afternoon at his campaign headquarters in Brighton. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
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Democratic candidate for governor Martha Coakley is calling on her Republican opponent Charlie Baker to offer specifics about a story he told in their debate Monday.

Baker tearfully told the story of a fisherman coming off a boat in New Bedford who pointed to his two sons on the boat and said he had ruined their lives by telling them they had to fish, even though they had college football scholarships.

The day after the debate, Baker said he had met the fisherman not on this campaign, but five years ago during his previous run for governor against Deval Patrick.

Walking the fishing docks of New Bedford Friday, Coakley said Baker has some explaining to do.

"Legitimate questions have been raised and should be answered by him about this," Coakley said. "Now we're hearing as he walks the story back — well maybe it wasn't New Bedford and maybe they weren't football players. So we're really left wondering what this story was about, and Charlie is really the only one who can answer that, so I think he should answer those questions."

Baker did answer questions Friday afternoon at his campaign headquarters in Brighton.

"I'm quite sure that I probably didn't get all the details correct, but the encounter has stuck with me for a long period of time, and as a father of three kids, one of the things that made that story stick with me was the notion that anybody who's a parent would ever do anything that would work against the best interests of their own children," Baker said.

Asked if Baker had made up a composite story, Coakley allowed that it was possible.

"If this is just an amalgam of stories, then what does that say about how he sees people in Massachusetts? But that's for him to answer, not for me," Coakley said.

But Baker said he did not make up the story.

"No, it's not a composite story at all," Baker said. "I had a conversation with a gentleman who was in New Bedford — whether or not he was from New Bedford, I don't know. I just assumed he was from New Bedford. [He] told me a story about bringing his kids into the business. His kids had other options and unfortunately for them the option that they chose was to pursue the family business, and he felt terrible about that."

So far, the fisherman has not turned up.

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This segment aired on October 31, 2014.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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Asma Khalid formerly led WBUR's BostonomiX, a biz/tech team covering the innovation economy.

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