Campaigning with Charlie

My new favorite Charlie Baker story (especially after his people criticized Cahill for cancelling a Worcester event because of a severe storm and power failure):

On the drive to Worcester, a campaign worker had explained that the job of everyone on the bus was to be as vocal and excited as possible at the rallies today. “So we’re all going to say how great Charlie is,” she instructed, “how he’s going to be the savior of the commonwealth!” Now the savior is ready to begin his speech outside Worcester City Hall, and he’s going to need all the help he can get.

Baker is standing at a lectern with his supporters lined up behind him on tiers of cement steps. But because the turnout is so dreadful, there’s almost no one left for him to address. As he begins his speech, he’s talking to just a handful of staffers and journalists. There are 13 people sitting at the tables and chairs that occupy the square behind City Hall, but their curious looks make it clear they haven’t come for the speech. “These are all his people,” a photographer from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette keeps saying. “There’s no public here.”

Baker is going on and on about Patrick’s local-aid promise, about how the high cost of doing business in Massachusetts is costing the state jobs. He seems to be under the impression that, rather than stirring up the base with a few standard-issue fighting words, the purpose of this rally is to tackle the big, important issues of the day. “Think about it for a minute,” he’s saying, looking out at the small group in front of him but apparently addressing the supporters behind him. “Do you believe that Deval Patrick and Tim Cahill, both of whom have supported all kinds of tax increases over the past few years, are gonna deal with the impending budget disaster without going back to the taxpayers in the cities and towns for more money to balance the budget?”

No one seems to be sure if they’re supposed to holler Yes! or No! So no one says anything at all. Turning his head to the group behind him, Baker snaps, “That’s a question!” Half of his supporters then roar Yes! before realizing they’ve got it backward. Anxious to give him what he needs, they quickly correct themselves, but by now the whole thing has dissolved into a half-hearted no. Charlie Baker is somehow losing an audience the campaign bused to the event specifically to cheer for him.

Baker presses on. “We are gonna cut spending and reform state government, period,” he declares. “That’s the only way that makes any sense for Massachusetts. We’re too expensive, too complicated, and too inefficient to do it any other way.” A lone person responds with a “Hoo!” and three sad claps. Baker stops, mid-sentence, nods at the man, and says, “Thank you.”

Bold mine.…

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