BOSTON — President Barack Obama stepped into the Massachusetts gubernatorial race today to rally for friend and political ally Deval Patrick, who is struggling to overcome the anti-incumbent mood that has swept across the country during this election season.
Speaking before a crowd of several thousand at a rally at Boston's Hynes Convention Center, Obama said Patrick's opponent is banking on the same strategy as national Republicans.
"They figured they could ride people's anger and frustration all the way to the ballot box," said Obama, dressed more casually for the weekend rally, in a sport coat but no tie.
As he has throughout this campaign season, Obama sought to frame the election as a choice between his policies, which he says are moving the country forward, and those of the GOP, who he says want to return to the policies of the past.
"The worst thing we could do is go back to a philosophy that nearly destroyed our economy," Obama said.
Although Massachusetts is among the nation's most liberal states, the last four governors before Patrick were Republicans. Massachusetts voters have opted for GOP governors as a hedge against perceived excesses by the Democratic-run state Legislature.
A poll from Suffolk University and WHDH-TV shows Patrick with a 7-point lead over Republican challenger Charles Baker. Patrick is also being challenged by independent Timothy Cahill, whose candidacy threatens to split the anti-Patrick vote.
Obama's remarks were interrupted twice by protesters demanding more funding for HIV/AIDS. Supporters in the crowd tried to drowned out the protesters by chanting, "Yes We Can," Obama's slogan during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Obama responded directly to the protesters, saying his administration had increased AIDS funding and telling them to, "take a look at what the Republican leadership has to say about AIDS funding."