Obama going to Boston to try to save Coakley’s game

Martha Coakley has made such a mess of her Senate race that the White House has been forced to hastily arrange a weekend trip to Massachusetts so President Obama can campaign for the Democrat. According to an AP report:

The White House said he will travel there Sunday.

[...]

His visit comes after he taped a Web video e-mailed to his supporters and an automated phone call asking Massachusetts to vote for Coakley, and promising “She’ll be your voice and my ally.”

The president and his allies on Capitol Hill realize that what’s at risk in the Bay State is much more than the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate:

“If Scott Brown wins, it’ll kill the health bill,” Democrat Barney Frank, D-Mass., said, underscoring the stakes of Tuesday’s special election.

Brown has virtually come out of center-right field to chip away at Coakley’s lead in the polls over the past few weeks, and he now holds a four-point advantage in the race, according to a Suffolk University poll which was released Thursday night.

Coakley’s campaign has been plagued by a series of embarrassing gaffes. The name of the state of Massachusetts, was misspelled in a recent Coakley ad, and eyebrows were raised and jaws dropped during the final debate between Brown and Coakley when she said, of terrorists in Afghanistan, “They’re gone. They’re not there anymore.”

Adding injury to insult, there was Coakley’s appearance at a lobbyist-hosted fundraiser Tuesday night, after which one of her campaign aides pushed a Weekly Standard reporter who was attempting to ask the candidate a question into a fence, knocking him down. The aide quickly helped the reporter back to his feet, but the damage, both literally and figuratively, had already been done.

But Coakley has been taking this Senate seat for granted from the beginning. Some in Democrat circles have criticized her rather lazy style of campaigning, and even the DNC-friendly Boston Globe said on December 30 that she was “keeping a low public profile” in the race.  She has given the impression that she can’t be bothered to press the flesh, as she demonstrated in what Mark Hemingway described as “another cringe-inducing gaffe.” Hemingway quotes another Globe story:

There is a subdued, almost dispassionate quality to her public appearances, which are surprisingly few. Her voice is not hoarse from late-night rallies. Even yesterday, the day after a hard-hitting debate, she had no public campaign appearances in the state.

Coakley bristles at the suggestion that, with so little time left, in an election with such high stakes, she is being too passive.

“As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?’’ she fires back, in an apparent reference to a Brown online video of him doing just that.

Hemingway concludes, “It’s bad enough she thinks she’s above shaking hands with the little people, but defiantly asserting she doesn’t need to go to Fenway Park? That’s hallowed ground as far as Massachusetts voters are concerned.”

No wonder ace bullpen pitcher Obama is being sent into this game in Boston. Coakley has blown a huge lead. But if the president can’t pull this one out of the fire, it will be a loss he will find difficult, if not impossible, to shake off.

- JP

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