In Boston, Obama rallies for Gov. Deval Patrick

President Obama joined MTV, CMT and BET for a townhall in an attempt to further energize the youth vote in the final stretch before the midterm elections
By Felicia Sonmez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 17, 2010; 4:30 AM

BOSTON, Mass. -- President Obama swooped into Boston on Saturday to energize the reelection bid Gov. Deval Patrick, the friend and longtime political ally who is facing two challengers at a time when an anti-incumbent sentiment is sweeping the country.

Speaking to a crowd estimated at more than 15,000, Obama urged Democrats who flocked to the polls in 2006 and 2008 not to cede the 2010 campaign to Republicans.

"It's not just about the work we've done; it's about the work we've got left to do," Obama said at the Hynes Convention Center.

He praised Patrick's efforts on clean energy, education and health care, calling him someone who has "been there for me as a friend" and "continues to inspire me as a leader."

Few candidates this cycle have as close a relationship with Obama as Patrick, who first won election in 2006. The two met in Chicago, where Patrick grew up and where Obama worked for several years after college as a community organizer. Both men are also graduates of Harvard Law School and share a pool of advisers including White House senior adviser David Axelrod and Obama's 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe.

Patrick, who took the stage before Obama and delivered a fiery defense of his four years in office, called Obama the "leader of the most optimistic nation in human history" and praised him as a president "more committed to leading by conviction than any we have had in a very, very long time."

Obama's visit came as he's stepping up his efforts on behalf of Democrats facing competitive re-election bids. On Friday, Obama visited Delaware with Vice President Biden to campaign for New Castle County Executive Chris Coons's (D) bid for Biden's former Senate seat.

On Sunday, Obama will stump in Cleveland for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, another incumbent Democrat facing a tough re-election race, and then attend a fundraiser and rally in Columbus for the Democratic National Committee. At the latter event, Obama will be joined by first lady Michelle Obama, marking the first time the two will hit the trail together since the 2008 campaign.

And next week, Obama makes a swing out west, headlining events for Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Patty Murray (Wash.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and gubernatorial hopefuls Mark Dayton in Minnesota and John Kitzhaber in Oregon.

Patrick, who is running in a three-way race against former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO Charlie Baker (R) and state Treasurer Tim Cahill (I), is one of several Democratic governors facing tough battles this year.

National Republicans have made the contest one of their top targets of the cycle, investing heavily in television ads on behalf of Baker. The Republican's campaign has also been roiled as of late by his former running mate's decision to drop off the independent ticket and endorse Baker; Cahill has filed a lawsuit accusing the Baker camp of "underhanded, backroom tactics."

While polls show Democrats across the country facing a wide enthusiasm gap, Patrick's campaign contends that's not the case here. Indeed, the crowd attending Obama's event for Patrick on Saturday far exceeded the 1,500 or so who were in attendance the last time Obama visited the state for a pre-election rally, when he made an eleventh-hour trip in January for state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) in her bid for the seat of the late senator Ted Kennedy (D). Coakley fell well short in the race, with Republican Scott Brown surging to an unexpected victory.

As he was in his January visit to the state, Obama was also interrupted this time by a group of hecklers several minutes into his speech. The protesters, who appeared to be AIDS activists, yelled at the president and held signs that read "Keep the Promise" and "Fight Global AIDS."

Obama ignored them for several minutes before finally shooting a glance in their direction. "I would suggest to the folks concerned with AIDS funding, take a look at what the Republican leadership has to say about it, because we increased AIDS funding," he said to applause.

Later Saturday, Obama attended a high-dollar fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at a private residence in Newton before heading back to Washington. The event raised $900,000, with tickets going for $15,200 to $30,400 apiece, according to a Democratic official.

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