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Massachusetts Senate race: Democratic big guns join the fight

Bill Clinton was on the stump Friday for Democrat Martha Coakley, who’s now trailing Republican Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race. President Obama will campaign there Sunday.

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Former President Bill Clinton hugs Rep. Jim McGovern as U.S. Senate candidate Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley waves to the crowd during a campaign appearance at Worcester Polytechnic Institute Friday.

Gretchen Ertl/AP

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Former President Clinton headlined a fundraiser Friday for the Democratic candidate in the Massachusetts Senate race to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat. Just before he took the stage, the White House confirmed that President Obama would make a similar campaign stop here Sunday.

Why is Attorney General Martha Coakley getting such attention from the most prominent members of the Democratic Party?

It’s a tight race between Ms. Coakley and her Republican challenger, state Sen. Scott Brown: A poll released late Thursday shows Coakley has fallen behind Mr. Brown by four percentage points. Much of Mr. Obama’s agenda depends on Democrats’ filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate.

“This is not about healthcare. Any bill except the federal budget can be filibustered,” Mr. Clinton proclaimed, after touting Coakley’s positions for financial and healthcare reform.

Massachusetts’ Senate race has received national attention because Coakley has promised to vote for the healthcare reform bill while Brown has promised to vote against it. That means the fate of the bill effectively rests with Massachusetts voters Tuesday.

Focus on jobs and the economy

But if there was a new element to Friday’s rally, it was to amp up the focus of the race on jobs and the economy. In the same Suffolk University poll that had Coakley trailing Brown, 44 percent of voters said that the economy and jobs are the most important issues for them in this race.

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