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.”

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.”

  • dina

    I happened to be near Worcester City Hall when Baker made stop, and it was clearly a press conference opp to get his message out;staged, yes, but considering he did not announce it ahead of time, per folks I talked to, not surprising there was no crowd. Never people in courtyard until summer!

  • M

    The author seems too harsh in the first part of the article, but then he gets it right toward the end. True, Charlie’s not great at giving sound bite answers to complex questions and delivering applause lines, but these superficial qualities shouldn’t be held against him at a time when we need someone with executive skills at the helm. That said, I do agree with the author on two things– 1. the most salient criticism of Patrick is that he is not in the game (seems more interested in his book deal than the job), and 2. Charlie is not and should not try to be Scott Brown– Charlie’s got a totally different set of assets and opponents, and comparisons of the two (such as Howie Carr often makes) are pointless.

  • shaun baran

    He is a republican moron, who would deny children food stamps to get the Koch’s Money. He will never be our Governor, no way no how. We can’t afford him, nor can our children afford a selfish Millionaire, with his smug grin. He lost like five times. Please go away, Mr. Managed Care No one want’s you, or your Managed Care straitjacket.