Former President Bill Clinton is attending rallies and fundraisers from Connecticut to Maine this Sunday. Democrats hope he will rally a voter base they need to show up at the polls on Election Day, to avoid what many analysts say will be a banner year for Republican candidates.
In Connecticut, Democrat Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is locked in a tough race with Republican Linda McMahon, the wealthy matron of professional wrestling, who has already spent tens of millions of dollars on her bid for the seat held by retiring Democratic Senator Chris Dodd.
Clinton's morning rally with Blumenthal comes on the heels of a visit from President Obama who headlined two fundraisers aimed at helping to level the financial playing field against McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. From Connecticut, the former President races to Taunton, Massachusetts where he'll stump for long serving Democratic Congressman Barney Frank. The 30-year incumbent is facing off against a political newcomer, Republican Sean Bielat, a former Marine and businessman who believes the Clinton visit is a sign that Frank's campaign is desperate.
"I think they're very vulnerable. That's what we've seen from the polling, that's what I see every night when I'm out talking to people, when I meet with these groups," argues Bielat. "There is a lot of discontent out there and the people who are supporting Barney Frank aren't necessarily as fervent."
Bielat's campaign hired the Republic polling firm OnMessage to conduct a survey following the September 14th primary and released the results last week, crowing that they had closed the gap on Frank to within 10 points- 48 percent supporting Frank, 38 percent supporting Bielat. They say the numbers also show strong support among independents, a critical voting bloc in Massachusetts, Bielat leading Frank 51 percent to 34 percent. The Bielat campaign says 400 likely voters were polled. The margin of error is +/-4.9 percent.
Frank's campaign has dismissed the results as completely untrustworthy, arguing their own internal numbers give them confidence. As for Bielat's assertion that the Clinton visit shows Frank's position is weakening key insiders say Frank is just working hard to earn votes.
"He's campaigning. That's what you do in a campaign," said Harry Gural, spokesperson for Frank, who said the campaign would face criticism from their opposition regardless of how they campaigned.
Boston University Communications Professor Tobe Berkovitz says Republican Scott Brown's upset win over Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley changed the political landscape in the Bay State.
"Massachusetts is a blue state but Scott Brown turned it a little red and so right now everyone, including Barney Frank, are thinking 'is this going to happen to me?' So they're taking no chances and bringing in Bill Clinton. That's bringing in the Big Dog and it shows that Barney Frank is taking nothing for granted," said Berkovitz.
"You bring in a Bill Clinton to try to reduce the odds that you're going to become the big story and be the long-term Congressman who's beaten by a rookie," said Berkovitz.
In South Portland, Maine Clinton will stump for Democrat Elizabeth "Libby" Mitchell, who is running for governor against Republican Paul LaPage, who has a sizable lead in the polls. Also at stake, two critical House seats held by Congressman Mike Michaud and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who are seeking re-election.