THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Joan Vennochi

Brown supporters trying to suppress vote by bullying

By Joan Vennochi
Globe Columnist / January 18, 2010

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Scott Brown is running for U.S. Senate as a pleasant guy in a pickup truck. But a mean spirit drives some of his campaign.

At a West Springfield rally on Sunday, a Brown supporter yelled out “Shove a curling iron up her butt’’. The remark was a crude reference to Brown’s opponent, Attorney General Martha Coakley, who was criticized in a recent Boston Globe story for failing to aggressively prosecute a sexual abuse case involving a curling iron.

After that charming rallying cry, a video clip shows Brown grinning and saying, “We can do this.’’

A campaign spokesman said the Republican state senator didn’t hear what was said and was merely giving his standard stump reply. But if Brown didn’t hear it then, shouldn’t he - especially as the father of two daughters - be outraged now ?

Instead, when Sen. John F. Kerry called upon Brown to curb his supporters, a Brown campaign spokesman replied “People are tired of John Kerry’s partisan politics. His baseless accusations reflect the desperate last gasps of a flailing campaign.’’

If Brown isn’t outraged by the crudeness of the curling iron remark, you would think Massachusetts voters would be. But so far, they’re more outraged by Coakley’s misstatement on a radio show that ex-Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is a “Yankee fan’’, as in the evil empire, New York ball club.

Coakley is accountable for her record as a prosecutor - and for her campaign mistakes. But her opponent should also be accountable for the unpleasant rhetoric that some of his supporters are embracing in the last hours of this hard-fought campaign.

Messages posted on Coakley’s campaign Facebook include these vicious sentiments: “Scott Brown should rape Martha Coakley and then deny her emergency contraception’’. “Martha Coakley getting raped would complete my life.’’ “Abortion is wrong. Kill her.’’ After one message that states “Looking forward to the rally Friday, Martha,’’ a woman named Amelia Bosley writes:“Hope she gets shot.’’ Imagine putting your name to that in the name of political change.

According to Coakley campaign spokeswoman Alex Zaroulis, some Brown supporters surrounded Coakley’s car on Saturday in Gloucester and yelled “You suck.’’

On Monday, a Brown supporter in Pittsfield lay down on the road in front of Coakley’s car, Zaroulis said.

Brown should answer for some of the ugliness, which is reminscent of the misogynist attacks directed at Hillary Clinton when she was running for president.

Yet, somehow Coakley is getting all the blame for the tenor of their bitter showdown. Yes, she ran negative ads - and bad ones at that. But, Brown supporters put up the first negative ad, which distorted a statement Coakley made about taxes. Brown said he wished the ad would go away, but did nothing to make that happen. Will not-my-problem be his attitude in Washington?

Brown backers say they are voting for change. Instead, they are supporting a slick, packaged politician who is happy to manipulate them.There’s nothing new about that.

Brown appeared at Monday’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast for a purely political photo-op. Then, Brown called out Coakley for giving a political speech at the event.

He hid behind his daughters rather than admit the truth. He did sponsor an amendment that would have allowed emergency medical personnel to deny emergency contraception to rape victims. If he believes in that principle, he should acknowledge it. Who will he hide behind in Washington?

The polls are reportedly breaking Brown’s way and he may win. The only way to stop him is to get out and vote for Coakley.

Turnout is key. The Democrat’s best hope is a strong ground game.

That’s why Brown supporters are trying to suppress the vote, by bullying and making Coakley supporters believe the cause is hopeless.

That’s the picture Brown is trying to paint. It isn’t pretty, like a lot of his campaign.