CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray today lambasted Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as he sought to boost President Obama and distinguish himself from other potential 2014 gubernatorial candidates also attending the Democratic National Convention.
Murray told the tale of how then-President Clinton visited his home city of Worcester after a 1999 fire that killed six firefighters and transfixed the nation while their colleagues searched the rubble for their bodies.
Then he noted how, four years later, Romney vetoed a proposal to provide $2 million in state funding for a new fire station on the site, even though the city was paying $4 million of its own and consolidating coverage by closing two other stations.
The Legislature overrode the veto, and the station and a memorial to the firefighters now stand on the site.
“President Clinton understood instinctively what that tragedy had done to our community and to our commonwealth,” Murray said. “So, the president came to Worcester because he wanted to help.”
Pivoting to Romney, the lieutenant governor said: “Now, I don’t think Mitt Romney’s a bad person; I do believe he’s a dedicated family man. But, for me, his decision to veto that fire station funding tells me everything we need to know about his approach to governing and the kind of America he would seek as our president.”
Murray added, “For Mitt Romney, that fire station was just a data point, a number on a page, a cost to be cut. That kind of detached, calculated decision-making may work fine in certain aspects of the corporate world, but that’s not what it means to be elected leader of commonwealth, or the United States of America.”
Murray then sought to link Clinton, who addressed the convention delegates Wednesday, to Obama, who speaks to them tonight when he accepts their party’s 2012 presidential nomination.
“They take the time to learn. They take the time to listen. They take the time to understand, and to rally people to work together for common purpose,” he said.
A spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party said the criticism was off-base.
“Even though the Democratically controlled Legislature overrode hundreds of Governor Romney’s vetoes, he still managed to leave the state’s finances in better shape than when he came into office, securing a $2.2 billion rainy day fund,” said party aide Tim Buckley.
“Murray is distorting the facts to attack Romney’s record because the White House has no record to run on, and voters across the nation won’t be voting based on what an embattled lieutenant governor has to say, but rather whether they are better off than they were four years ago,” Buckley added.
Later during his speech, Murray broadened his attack to other Republicans running in Massachusetts this year.
“Mitt Romney, Scott, Brown, Richard Tisei, and their allies like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, all have a very different view,” he said, ticking off proposals to trim various forms of social spending. “That’s not an America that’s not built on shared sacrifice and shared dreams, and that’s what’s at stake in this election.”
Murray also suggested he will make clear his plans about whether to run for governor in 2014 once the current election is held on Nov. 6. Governor Deval Patrick has already declared he will not seek a third term.
Besides Murray, other potential Democratic successors attending the convention are Attorney General Martha Coakley, Secretary of State William F. Galvin, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Auditor Suzanne Bump, although Coakley has said she will run for her current job in 2014.
In addition, former Patrick administration aide David Simas, a Taunton native now finishing a stint working for the president, gave a rousing speech to the delegates this week that prompted discussion of his own potential candidacy.
Murray said, “I think I would” make a good governor, before adding in response to the question: “I’ve learned a lot working alongside Governor Patrick, seen a lot. I mean, like anything else, you learn as you do your job and you go along. But right now I think we need to focus on reelecting the president, Elizabeth Warren, and the rest of the delegation.”
Later, the lieutenant governor said he would settle on a decision after Election Day.Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.