Meet Charlie Baker: The Man Destined to Become Our Next Governor
The stump speech is like kissing babies. Campaigning 101. It’s a formula that’s rarely tinkered with…for the simple reason that it works. You keep your sentences short and crisp, pause at your applause lines, jab your finger for emphasis, and maybe even throw in a foot stomp or two to get the crowd howling. Done right, the stump speech sets you up as someone worth listening to (a helpful illusion, since what’s said is rarely worth paying attention to at all). Done wrong, however, the stump speech can make you look like an amateur, someone not worth wasting a vote on. Done wrong, in fact, it looks very much like the rambling lecture Charlie Baker is now delivering outside Worcester City Hall.
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.”
EVERY TIME BAKER TURNS AROUND these days, somebody else wants to know why the hell he isn’t following the Scott Brown Blueprint for Massachusetts Electoral Success. Hadn’t Brown, tearing through Massachusetts in his pickup, shown the way? Hadn’t he hacked out of previously impassable terrain a sure-fire path to victory for Baker? “It’s incredible,” Boston University professor Thomas Whalen exclaimed in the Herald, “that in the wake of Scott Brown’s upset victory, [Baker] would find himself in third place in the polls. It’s pathetic.”