Attorney General Martha Coakley went on the offensive today, saying that her Republican opponent would move the country backward if Massachusetts residents elected him to the US Senate next week.
Coakley made the comments just hours before the race's final debate tonight at UMass Boston, marking a much more aggressive tone for the Democratic nominee. Early in the race, Coakley would barely utter Republican nominee Scott Brown's name. This morning, she said it about a dozen times in 10 minutes. She criticized his stance on health care, gay marriage, and taxes as she sought to link Brown to former president George W. Bush.
"The only thing he has proposed is to continue to give the haves and have mores the tax cuts they got under the Bush-Cheney administration," Coakley said at a press conference in her campaign headquarters in Charlestown. "Not only is Scott Brown a roadblock to progress, he wants to go back to the failed policies of the Bush-Cheney administration."
Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, was formally endorsed this morning by the State Police Association of Massachusetts, which cited his position on treating terrorists as enemy combatants and not as ordinary criminals.
"The terrorist threat in this country is real, and Scott Brown will always come down on the side of protecting our nation," Richard Brown, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said in a statement. "I've known him for years, he's my state senator, and he's someone we've always been able to trust on the issues that deal with keeping residents safe -- especially during times of uncertainty in our country."
Scott Brown argues that terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants, interrogated and prosecuted under military law. He has criticized Coakley for supporting their trials in the civilian criminal justice system.
"Our laws are meant to protect this nation, not our enemies," he said in a statement. "In such an unpredictable and unstable period, I will never compromise on our nation's security."
Brown was also endorsed this afternoon by The Boston Herald, which said he would "go to Washington as his own man -- and as ours, beholden to no one, except Massachusetts voters."
Brown, Coakley, and a third candidate in the race, independent Joseph L. Kennedy, will meet tonight for a debate sponsored by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate.
Brown today sent out a fundraising appeal to supporters, with a goal of raising $500,000 before midnight tonight. He was also endorsed by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a possible 2012 GOP presidential contender. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who also may run in 2012, has also backed Brown, as has the 2008 Republican nominee Senator John McCain.
For Coakley, the Democratic National Committee reportedly is paying for polls to determine whether the race is tightening, and is also dispatching a press operative to Boston. President Bill Clinton is planning to headline a rally for Coakley on Friday. President Obama, who was recently active in unsuccessful Democrat gubernatorial campaigns in Virginia and New Jersey, has no plans to come to Massachusetts, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at the White House today.
According to the latest campaign finance reports, Coakley has raised $67,700 since Jan. 1, when the Federal Election Commission started requiring candidates to report all contributions within 48 hours. Brown has raised $20,600 over the same period.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com. Material from the Associated Press was included in this report.
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