Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Republican Charles D. Baker, after once again showing flashes of anger in a gubernatorial debate today, defended his sharp tone on the campaign trail, saying he is angry at state government and that's the "tenor of the times."
Baker grew impassioned during the debate today when he denounced state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill for agreeing to uphold the state’s recent adoption of national education standards, a move Baker says will force Massachusetts to back away from its highly regarded MCAS exam.
“I will fight this one!” Baker exclaimed, his voice rising, in the debate on WTKK-FM that also featured Governor Deval Patrick. “I cannot believe the treasurer decided this is not a fight worth having. This is exactly the kind of fight we should have.”
Cahill responded firmly: “Calm down. Calm down.”
But Baker did not heed the treasurer. “I’m not going to calm down on this one,” he said. “This is about the future of the kids of Massachusetts.”
Republicans and Democrats across the country have been trying to tap into the mood of the electorate this year, one in which many voters say they are angry about the economy and ready to boot incumbents from office. On Tuesday, those voters, fueled by the Tea Party movement, helped elect dissident Republicans over more established candidates in Delaware, New York, and other states.
Baker, a former health care executive and state budget chief under Republican governors in the 1990s, is undoubtedly part of the Republican establishment in Massachusetts. Although best known as a number-crunching policy specialist, he has shown occasional eruptions of anger – for example, when defending his role in crafting a finance plan for the Big Dig and when talking to voters in Gloucester about the hard-hit fishing industry.
Today, Baker said he makes no apologies for his rising emotions. He said he shares the sentiments of many voters who are outraged at the government.
“I have a lot of people say you seem kind of angry sometimes,” Baker told reporters after the debate. “Well, the truth is I am angry sometimes because I think the state of Massachusetts — the governor, the treasurer, state government – have let the people of Massachusetts down.”
Baker added that the voters he speaks to on the campaign trail “are angry and they’re disappointed and they’re dismayed and, sometimes, I suppose, in my comments and in my manner, I reflect that. But I think that is, frankly, the tenor of the times for a lot of people.”
Patrick got off to a strong start in the debate, seizing the initial moments to announce that August unemployment figures showed that the state had added another 4,000 jobs in the private sector.
Minutes after Patrick spoke, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development issued a press release, saying that unemployment had dropped to 8.8 percent in August from 9.0 percent in July.
It was the seventh straight month for job gains in the state, which has added 64,300 jobs since December, the office said. While the private sector added 4,000 jobs, the net gain in jobs was 2,100, due to jobs lost in government, mostly due to reductions in temporary Census jobs.
Patrick, who is finishing his first term, has faced difficult challenges as the state has dealt with declining revenues during tough economic times.
Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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