Democrat Martha Coakley and her supporters warned at a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night that the fate of health care reform and the Democratic Party's majority in Congress all hinge on the outcome of her bid for Senate in Massachusetts next week, read reports from the closed-door affair.
Democrats have sounded the alarm over the race, going so far as to accuse Republicans of "swift-boating" Coakley. The claims come as GOP state Sen. Scott Brown experiences a last-minute surge for what was thought to be one of the most solidly Democratic seats in the country -- the seat formerly held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
According to accounts of the D.C. fundraiser, Coakley and other Democrats warned that Brown was posing a major threat, and that a Republican win would have devastating political consequences.
"If I don't win, 2010 is going to be hell for Democrats ... Every Democrat will have a competitive race," the state attorney general said, the National Review reported.
Coakley on Wednesday denied saying that. The National Journal, in its account, originally attributed that quote to Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
But the Journal issued a correction later in the day attributing the comment to Coakley. The Journal's source was GOP strategist Jordan Gehrke, who on his Twitter page explained that Coakley said it, while "echoing" Markey.
"Coakley echoing Markey: 'If we lose Tuesday 2010 WILL be hell for Democrats','" reads the tweet.
A Markey aide said the congressman did not say the "hell" comment, but could not confirm whether Coakley did.
Gehrke also wrote that Coakley said health care reform is riding on the Massachusetts race and that her loss would be the beginning of a "disaster."
Health care reform has become a focal point of the race because Brown has vowed to vote against the health care package if he wins. It's unclear whether he'd be certified and sworn in in time to vote on the package -- but if he arrived in Washington before the vote, he would be able to break the Democrats' 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority and potentially sideline the bill.
Tea partiers who quibble with some of Brown's other positions say that's reason enough to send 300 members up there on election day Tuesday to serve in phone banks.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made an appeal for donations Wednesday after it distributed a fundraising plea from Sen. John Kerry the day before. The DSCC appeal invoked the infamous attack ads that helped sink his campaign for president in 2004.
"Brown's allies are blanketing Massachusetts with anonymously funded, shadowy attack ads by outside grounds. Sound familiar?" the e-mail said. The graphic on the e-mail had the title, "Swift Boaters on the Attack in Massachusetts," though it didn't provide any evidence to suggest those behind the 2004 ads were involved in the Massachusetts race nor did it indicate which ads were "shadowy."
Kerry also alleged in an e-mail Wednesday that national Republican groups, including "some of the people who funded the attack ads against me in 2004," were up to no good in Massachusetts.
The latest poll out of Massachusetts showed the race in a dead heat. Rasmussen Reports released a survey Tuesday showing Coakley leading Brown 49-47 percent. The telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Jan. 11. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Coakley dismissed the Rasmussen numbers when asked about the poll Tuesday night.
"We've never paid attention to polls during this race either in the primary or in the general," she told Fox News. "We're working hard to win. We're going to get our message out to voters as we've done since September."