President Obama plans to visit the state Sunday to campaign for Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley, who appears to be locked in a close, high-stakes race with Republican Scott Brown with just four days left before the election, the White House confirmed today.
"I think the president sees a pretty clear distinction between a candidate in Martha Coakley who's going to fight for Massachusetts and a candidate on the other side who feels comfortable fighting for the insurance industry and big banks," presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said this afternoon.
"I think the President believes he can be helpful and is happy to accept the invitation," he said.
A Democratic source said that the event with Obama would likely be held in the Boston area, either in the city itself, or in one of two communities where Coakley is scheduled to campaign, Quincy and Framingham. Additional details were not immediately available.
Brown's campaign manager, Beth Lindstrom, said in a statement that Brown would "spend the remaining days of the campaign the same way he started it -- shaking hands with Massachusetts voters and talking about his plans to keep taxes low and cut out wasteful spending. Martha Coakley's tax-raising schemes will kill jobs and hurt our economy. She will be a rubber stamp for the political machine at a time when people want to end business as usual in Washington."
The Globe today outlined the advantages and risks of a presidential visit.
The potential upsides are obvious; Obama won Massachusetts with 62 percent of the vote in 2008, and the glamour and media saturation of a presidential visit, especially at a large rally, would add a jolt of excitement to a campaign that has been seen as lackluster.
But there are risks. If Obama visits Massachusetts and Coakley loses, it would signal that Obama’s ability to motivate rank-and-file Democrats has slipped. It would buoy Republican efforts to take back the House and Senate this fall. And it could fuel criticism that he made a political trip while pressing issues awaited in Washington.
As recently as Monday, Gibbs said that Obama had no plans to travel to Massachusetts to campaign for Coakley in the home stretch in the special election to fill the US Senate seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy. Gibbs said in response to a question at a briefing in the White House that the "president doesn't have any travel plans to campaign in Massachusetts," because "it's not on our schedule to go to next week."
But that was before several polls showed Republican Scott Brown gaining momentum, including a survey released today by Suffolk University that had Brown up four points.
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