---- — BOSTON — U.S. Sen. John McCain visited Boston yesterday to stump and fundraise for fellow Navy veteran and Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez, who ramped up his attacks on opponent U.S. Rep. Edward Markey for voting against resolutions in Congress honoring the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Appearing at a Dorchester VFW post before headlining a downtown Boston fundraising lunch, McCain called Gomez “the next generation of leadership in this country” and said Gomez could be counted on to support comprehensive immigration reform and to help end the pattern of sexual abuse in the military.
The appearance by McCain gave the Massachusetts Democratic Party an opening to link Gomez to the national Republican Party, a prevalent campaign tactic for candidates running in the heavily Democrat-leaning state.
Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, told the few dozen supporters assembled at the Boston Police VFW Post 1018 that it was an “honor” to welcome McCain to Boston, before criticizing Markey for voting against the resolutions in Congress in 2004 and 2006.
“To me, it’s just unconscionable to have voted against something like that,” Gomez said.
Gomez also critiqued Markey for voting for the Patriot Act in 2001, but later voting against reauthorizations of the bill that granted expanded investigatory powers for homeland security.
“I’m sure he’s going to have some slick lawyerly explanation to try to explain votes on these matters but the bottom line is he didn’t do a single thing to make sure that we were safer as a country,” Gomez said.
Markey’s campaign called Gomez’s line of attack “despicable” and misleading, suggesting the criticisms have been “widely discredited in the past, and denounced by Democrats, Republicans and families of 9/11 victims who deserve better than for their memories to be exploited for partisan political gain.”
Markey was one of 16 representatives to vote against the 2004 resolutions, and one of 22 to vote against the 2006 resolution.
“Ed Markey has always supported the victims of 9/11 – that’s why he joined Democrats and Republicans like Ron Paul in voting against resolutions that blatantly politicized 9/11 and denigrated the memory of those who died. Gabriel Gomez should be ashamed of himself. For this despicable attack he owes the people of Massachusetts and victims of 9/11 an immediate apology,” said campaign spokesman Andrew Zucker, in a statement.
The Markey campaign said the Congressman has voted in favor of resolutions honoring the victims of the terrorist attack eight times, but voted against the resolutions in question because Republicans inserted language praising passage of the Patriot Act and House approved immigration bill called anti-immigrant by critics.
McCain said the special election, likely to be marked by low voter turnout in late June, will come down to get-out-the-vote efforts. “I’ll be counting on our veterans,” McCain said.
Three weeks into the general election campaign between Markey and Gomez, a series of polls have shown the race to be within single digits. The two have not yet debated, but Gomez has challenged Markey to three debates and over the weekend Markey said he had accepted an invitation from WBZ and the Boston Globe to debate on June 5.