WORCESTER, Mass. – A standing-room only, overflow crowd jammed into Mechanic’s Hall today for a campaign rally in support of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown’s bid to win the seat left open by the death of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown addresses supporters at the Wachusett Mountain ski area (courtesy Worcester Telegram & Gazette)
With horns honking and signs waving, onlookers drove up and down Main Street outside the auditorium, enthusiastic about Brown’s chances of upsetting Martha Coakley in Tuesday’s special election.
The Brown campaign had to organize an overflow room to handle the huge crowd.
Supporters say they’re excited about the opportunity to support Brown, hoping that he will be the 41st vote to stop President Obama’s health-care proposal.
It was a star-studded rally as former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and “Cheers” celebrity John Ratzenberger needed very little to whip up the eager crowd’s excitement.
One campaign volunteer said at the local campaign office, hundreds of campaign volunteers generated 10,000 phone calls in a single day, adding he doesn’t think this is a Republican campaign.
“I go to the Worcester campaign HQ and I look around. There are only working-class people here,” one volunteer said.
Another campaign volunteer said he couldn’t believe the number of volunteers.
“I was a volunteer at the call center and I made over 200 calls in one day. There are so many people wanting to make calls now, I had to stop calling and become a trainer,” the volunteer bragged.
Several members of the New England Patriots were on the stage along with former NFL lineman Fred Smerlas.
TV star John Ratzenberger wowed the crowd as he offered his New England credentials.
“This is wonderful, I love being home. I grew up in Bridgeport, Conn., so I’m a real New Englander and I know this part of the country,” Ratzenberger said. “The rest of the country is looking to Massachusetts to bring this country back to its New England roots.”
“My town was a factory town. I remember the proud workers who worked in those mills and factories,” Ratzenberger reminisced.
“Let me tell you, we were Democrats. But this is not the Democratic Party of our fathers and grandfathers. This is not the Democratic Party of John Kennedy or even Tip O’Neill,” the actor explained.
“This is now the Democratic Party of Woodstock. Let me tell you, Woodstock wasn’t about reality.”
“Hey I was there and it was a nightmare. People ran out of everything. But one afternoon, the people looked up and from over the hills there were helicopters flying in food, water and port-a-potties.”
“The very people these people of Woodstock protest against are the people who saved them,” Ratzenberger adds.
“I told Hillary Clinton when they put up the statue for Woodstock that she should show a National Guardsman feeding a crying hippie,” he said to laughter. “Thank you all and we’re going to change things!”
After a loud ovation, former Boston College and NFL star Doug Flutie hit the stage.
“This is almost like game day only I don’t have pads on,” Flutie said.
“I love underdogs and there’s another underdog here. How about another underdog? Down 3-0 in 2004, the Red Sox came from a deficit and won the American League series,” he said, leading the crowd.
“Here’s a man who was on that team, Curt Schilling!” Flutie said to thunderous applause.
The former Red Sox pitcher and World Series game winner continued the day’s themes.
“You have to go out Tuesday and vote for Scott Brown. If you feel like you have a chance to make a difference, you cannot miss this opportunity,” Schilling urges.
“I’ve played on some excellent teams and the common thread of those teams was character, ethics, and a willingness to do the things necessary to make the win happen,” Schilling says.
“Oh, and one more thing, I’m not a Yankee fan,” Schilling said, making reference to Coakley’s claim that Curt Schilling was a fan of the New York Yankees.
Schilling continued the tone of the event and introduced Senate candidate Scott Brown.
“Martha Coakley has made some outrageous accusations in this campaign. But the worst of them was saying that Curt Schilling is a Yankees fan!” Brown indicated.
“I am so glad my daughter Ayla is here. She’s been on national TV on ‘American Idol.’ She had to deal with Simon Cowell, I had to deal with David Gergen,” Brown mused.
“The nation is watching and the decision belongs to you!” Brown continued. “Friends, I’m Scott Brown, I’m from Wrentham. I drive a truck and I need your vote.”
“A few months ago, the political machine wrote us off. The pundits said the seat was already spoken for. The opposition had a placeholder in the Senate that was arranged by a manipulation of the state’s laws,” Brown explained, referring to the legislative maneuvers that allowed Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint interim Sen. Paul Kirk the seat.
“They were looking for the permanent placeholder. There is only one thing wrong with that plan. The independent thinking people of Massachusetts wanted this to be a real campaign,” Brown exhorted the crowd.
“There’s another rally in downtown Boston. Air Force One is here. The president is always welcome, even though this wasn’t a scheduled visit. The president had to change his plans because that seat the party bosses say belongs to them isn’t a sure thing any more,” Brown claimed.
“That seat doesn’t belong to them. That seat belongs to you,” Brown said pointing at a crowd member. He continued, pointing around the room, “And it belongs to you, and you and you.”
“The president speaks of a new kind of politics. He spoke of vision and issues. While he’s here, he needs to talk to Martha,” Brown says with a suddenly serious tone.
“Not only are her ads negative, they’re vicious. The politics of hope have been replaced by the politics of desperation,” Brown warned.
“I really appreciate you coming out to this rally to support me. … But do you know what I have to say about those negative ads? ‘Shame on Martha!’”
The crowd chanted, “Shame on Martha! Shame on Martha! Shame on Martha!”
“We’re standing against the machine,” Brown said, as a crowd member waved a Rage Against the Machine sign.
“To the people who are watching on TV covering me, you’re the machine also,” Brown said, beginning to sound hoarse.
The pundits and operatives are wondering why this campaign came from nowhere. The people don’t want a senator who when they want to know how to vote says, ‘Harry, how do I vote?’” Brown said, referring to the health-care issue.
“The health-care bill will break the economy, run us deeper into debt, cost jobs and raise taxes,” Brown added. “I will work to reform health care the right way, with no more closed doors and no secret negotiations. I will make sure we do health care and we do it better.”
“My opponent has it wrong. We need to get job creation up and taxes down,” Brown said. “I will work with people who are in the business of creating jobs and giving incentives to those who are in the business of creating jobs.”
“John’s illustration about the National Guard hit home because as a 30-year member of the National Guard, I will make sure that our military is second to none,” Brown claimed.
“During the recent debate, my opponent looked into the camera and said there are no more terrorists threatening our country,” Brown related.
“I responded by saying, ‘Yes, there are.’ They’re there .They’re in Afghanistan and they’re at war with us. As an attorney, I know the laws about enemy combatants and I don’t think we need to ensure enemies of this country should be getting tax supported lawyers,” Brown claimed.
“The establishment is deathly afraid of losing their seat, but we need to remember them that this isn’t their seat, it’s the people’s seat! It’s your seat!”
The standing-room only crowd roared as Brown vowed to not be beholden to any special interests.
“I’m not going to be anyone’s senator but yours,” Brown added.
“They think they own your vote. They think they cannot lose, but on Election Day, we need to set them straight!
“We’re in a race that will not be forgotten. In this final 48 hours, let us see that this historic campaign wins a victory!”