Menino praises Markey, but ‘can’t explain’ light schedule

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino formally threw his support behind US Representative Edward J. Markey on Friday, but said he could explain neither the Malden Democrat’s string of missed votes in Congress nor his decision not to release his tax returns until the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

“I can’t explain that,” Menino told reporters of Markey’s timing around the tax disclosure. “Everybody runs their own campaign, and their own political situation, what they do publicly and privately. I can’t explain that at all.”

Menino also pinned blame on both Markey and Republican nominee Gabriel E. Gomez for a negative turn in the Senate campaign. Gomez on Thursday labeled Markey “pond scum” in an interview with National Public Radio for the Markey campaign video that shows Gomez on a split screen with Osama bin Laden.

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Speaking to about 100 people at a Dorchester union hall, Menino praised Markey’s work in Washington on behalf of Massachusetts.

He told the Globe he had advised Markey to “meet and greet” more aggressively.

“Once you meet him, you know you’ll vote for him,” Menino said.

Asked about the 37-year congressman missing the last 40 House votes, while at the same time adhering to a light public campaign schedule, Menino, famous for appearing frequently around the city, said, “I can’t explain that. I just know what he’s done as a congressman. I’ve known his record. He’s been able to deliver for Massachusetts, he’s been able to deliver for Boston. Sustainability, safer, making Boston a better city.”

Markey responded to Gomez’s “pond scum” comment by asserting that voters were unlikely to welcome that tone into the campaign.

“I don’t think that the people of Massachusetts want to hear any name-calling,” Markey told reporters. “I think what they want to hear are real proposals that ensure that we get assault weapons off the streets, that we protect Social Security, that we create jobs, that we make sure that Wall Street doesn’t turn into a casino again.”

The Web video in question blasts Gomez for criticizing President Obama for the administration’s leak of classified information about the raid, which Gomez said endangered US troops. The video shows Gomez on the screen at the same time as the terrorism mastermind.

“I don’t think there’s anything more offensive,” Gomez said in the NPR interview. “You know I’ve got four young kids, and they gotta sit there and gotta see an ad with their dad — who served honorably, talk to anybody I served with — whether as a pilot or as a SEAL, or anybody I worked with. And for him to be as dirty and low, pond scum, to, like, put me up next to bin Laden, he’s just got to be called what he is. It’s that simple.”

Markey is expected to grant access to eight years of tax records on Friday, after coming under pressure from both the Gomez campaign and media outlets. Gomez has disclosed six years of tax returns, revealing that he earned $10.1 million dollars over that period and paid an effective tax rate of 21 percent.