A short talk -- about 10 minutes -- and an introduction from a mayor-elect who once hoped to marry her -- marked U.S. Senate candidate Martha Coakley's return today to her hometown for the first public appearance since her quest to succeed U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy officially began a scant two months ago. The Massachusetts attorney general covered no new political ground in remarks to between 150 and 200 people at a main street cafe, the Cup & Saucer.
No time for questions -- but here are the 18 we might have asked (PDF download) and they are in the hands of Coakley operatives Emily LaGrassa, press secretary, and Gus Bickford, political director. We'll post her answers at GreylockNews.com when the come in.
Sitting in the audience was Bernice "Red" Alcombright -- mother of North Adams Mayor-elect Richard Alcombright. She recalled her son once told her -- in the sixth grade -- that Coakley was among three girls he hoped to marry some day. Richard Alcombright, a banker, introducing Coakley. He sat next to her in elementary school, he says. He is reciting her bio. He says it is rare to work with someone "who's vision is so positive." He says her vision is aligned with North Adams -- a city of about 14,000 people suffering along with much of Western Massachusetts with economic hard times.
Alcombright says she is committed to the elderly, helping with youth poverty, and is concerned "about keeping us safe" to find resources to maintain police and safety services and is committed to veterans services.
About 20 people from across the state submitted questions to GreylockNews.com and we've given them all to Gus Bickford, political director of the Coakley campaign -- [email protected] -- he says he'll get us all answers.
Coakley begins with kind words for state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, who introduced her and about other folks locally.
"Many of you remember my dad and his sense of integrity, he didn't say much . . . many of you wondered how he could sell insurance . . . but when he spoke, you listened to him."
When a recession hits North Adams, it hits harder here, she says. She says she understands how far it is "out here." She recalls her father dressed as "Smokey the Bear" in the North Adams Fall Foliage Parade.
She recites her support of the so-called "public option" in the Senate health-care reform package. She talks about environment, and providing for cost-effective energy. "It's complicated ... and it's not a 30-second or 60-second soundbite."
Now she's talking about the physical and mental stress of returning veterans. "And we need to make sure that when we are sending our men and women overseas we have a clear mission."
The boundaries of opportunity have change, "but we need to make sure that the boundaries of discrimination keep moving." She says, "the defense of marriage act is just wrong, we shouldn't be telling the people of Massachusetts how we run our families."
"I am proud to say that I believe I will be a good U.S. senator because I grew up in North Adams."
She finishes speaking -- a total of about 10 minutes, leaves the stage and then returns to say happy thanksgiving. Next stop -- Pittsfield, Mass., then Springfield -- and then back into Boston, where Coakley's political director said she would join a 4:30 p.m. taping of the WGBH-TV program Greater Boston with Emily Rooney -- a four-way appearance with her Democratic senate opponents which will be aired at 7 p.m. this evening.