Never has so much money been spent on so wretched a campaign as that being conducted by our former governor in his pursuit of the White House.
Aide Eric Fehrnstrom was only stating the obvious when he told CNN that Mitt Romney could shake up his positions — like someone with an Etch A Sketch — once he is through the Republican primaries and seeking the votes of independents and conservative Democrats in the general election.
Massachusetts voters don't know what to make of Romney, who was once admired here for his moderate positions on social issues and tough fiscal conservatism. It seems his moral compass has turned into something more resembling those spin-the-wheel games at the Topsfield Fair.
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Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren didn't show, though her husband did, and the governor was vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands. But while Rep. John Keenan's annual St. Patrick's Day fundraiser at Finz last Friday may have been lacking in star power, there were still plenty of laughs as local politicians poked fun at each other. Described by Congressman John Tierney as "my favorite root canal," the early morning event drew a large crowd to the Pickering Wharf restaurant.
Making his debut appearance, new Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt may have said more than he intended by noting, "I'm an attorney. I'm a politician. I have no shame."
But he and others struck a more serious note in offering praise for the guest of honor, state Sen. Fred Berry, D-Peabody, who will be stepping down next year after 30 years at the Statehouse.
All three Democratic candidates vying for his seat were in attendance. Berry took shots at a couple of them, stating that the governor had asked him to retire "to get rid of Mary-Ellen Manning," who as a member of the Governor's Council has not always been supportive of Patrick's judicial nominees, and observing that former state representative and attorney John Slattery has been showing up in court in a wheelchair in an effort to emulate the wheelchair-bound incumbent.
Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, also absent, took his share of jibes, including one from state Treasurer Steve Grossman, the highest-ranking state official in attendance and a potential opponent for the corner office when Patrick departs after 2014.
The most edgy joke may have come, surprisingly, from the Rev. Jeff Barz-Snell of Salem's First Church, who told of three clergymen discussing the issue of when life begins. While one said it begins at conception and another when the fetus is viable outside the womb, the third, Barz-Snell recounted, opined that life begins "when your kids move away to college and the dog dies."
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Sen. John Kerry had to know he wasn't going to get off the stage at the A.J. Gordon Chapel on Monday without being asked about abortion.
The question was posed by Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay, who asked how the senator could reconcile his Catholic beliefs with his support for a woman's right to choose.
Kerry said that while he personally is opposed to abortion, "the courts and government shouldn't be making that decision for individual women." The response drew a smattering of applause from students at the Christian college.
Kerry, by the way, in response to another question, picked Kentucky to go all the way in the NCAA basketball tourney.
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Salem attorney David Eppley kicked off his campaign for the 5th District Governor's Council seat Sunday at the Green Land Cafe. He is one of several candidates who have announced for the seat being vacated by Manning, who stepped down to run for state senator.