Monday, January 18, 2010

Obama scrambles to save Democratic Senate seat

President Barack Obama went on a rescue mission on Sunday to try to save an endangered Massachusetts Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate whose defeat by a Republican could imperil Obama's sweeping healthcare overhaul.

Obama appeared at a campaign rally in Boston for Democrat Martha Coakley, whose 30-point lead in the polls in December has vanished and who is now in a tight race with Republican Scott Brown before Tuesday's election.

Speaking to 1,500 supporters gathered in a basketball arena at Northeastern University, Obama ridiculed Brown for his populist campaign tactic of driving around Massachusetts in a pickup truck and attacked him for not supporting a bank bailout tax Obama proposed last week.

"We asked Martha's opponent, what's he going to do, and he decided to park his truck on Wall Street," Obama said. "Let me be clear: Bankers don't need another vote in the United States Senate. They've got plenty."

A victory by Brown would be a shock upset in the traditionally liberal New England state. At stake is the Senate seat held by the late Senator Edward Kennedy for 46 years, a fact that Coakley raised at the rally. "I need your help to follow in his huge footsteps," she said.

Aware that his healthcare push is generating some opposition in Massachusetts, Obama made little mention of his top domestic priority, choosing instead to emphasize Brown's opposition to the bank tax.

But the fact is that Obama's healthcare overhaul could be slowed if Brown wins since the Republican has vowed to vote against it.

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