Bill Clinton to lend support to Coakley

By Eric Moskowitz
Globe Staff / January 10, 2010

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Former President Bill Clinton will visit Boston on Friday to lend his support to US Senate candidate Martha Coakley, joining the Democratic nominee for a rally at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.

The event is a sign not just of Clinton’s continued support for Coakley - he endorsed her during last month’s primary - but also that Democrats are taking seriously the race between her and Republican Scott P. Brown.

Clinton, who recorded a phone message sent to 500,000 potential voters on the eve of the primary, will appear with Coakley and US Senator John F. Kerry at the rally, which will be held at 2 p.m. and is open to the public. The election, to fill the seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy, follows on Jan. 19.

Both major-party candidates campaigned in Boston yesterday. Coakley, who had few public events in the first weeks after the primary, stopped by shops in Jamaica Plain with local officials to promote her plan for targeted tax relief for small businesses.

Brown greeted passersby on Broadway in South Boston, then held a press conference to reiterate his opposition to national health-insurance legislation.

He decried a quote from Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr., the seat’s temporary occupant, suggesting Kirk would vote to pass the bill if such a vote fell after the election but before the new senator could be sworn in.

“Paul Kirk appears to be suggesting that he, Deval Patrick, and Harry Reid intend to stall the election certification until the health care bill is rammed through Congress, even if that means defying the will of the people of Massachusetts,’’ he said in a statement.

In a radio interview yesterday, Coakley agreed with Brown that the new senator “should be sworn in as soon as possible’’ after the election.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin said the controversy appears to be manufactured. Federal law requires him to wait 10 days before certifying the election results, to allow for absentee ballots from military personnel stationed overseas to be counted.

In 2007, the US House allowed Niki Tsongas to be sworn in less than 48 hours after her special election, accepting a temporary certification from Galvin at a time when the state’s Fifth District seat was vacant. The US Senate has stricter rules, meaning the 10-day period must be upheld, Galvin said.

“I take offense at the suggestion . . . that somehow it’s going to be manipulated by people on Beacon Hill one way or another,’’ he said yesterday. “The law is going to be followed. Every ballot is going to be counted.’’

The House and Senate are trying to reconcile differences between their two versions, and no date has been set for a final vote in the Senate. President Obama used his radio address yesterday to urge swift action.