Oh Mike Open Mike

Springsteen and Wonder back waiting for Mike Capuano…

The crowd carrying those little plates of cheese they stab with toothpicks look weighted to 30 and above, with few in jeans who aren’t part of the Rep.’s crew. I’m at the balcony level above the ballroom with blogger sorts and his flack Monica Crane and the band (What I Say now).

We at Left Ahead and me at Marry in Massachusetts are getting a lot more love and respect from Capuano and nothing yet from Martha Coakley. He holds blogger roundtables and was quick to join us for a podcast.  It’s hard to tell how much of that is greater bandwidth than Coakley’s, how much awareness of netroots, and how much Coakley tries to minimize and control her exposures.

For her, I get press releases of her wonders and petty miracles. So far none of her contacts has responded to requests.

Allegedly this open-mike bash at the Park Plaza runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. We’re 12 minutes into it and folk far finally drifting from the snacks to the seats.

Monica says the band is the house one from Lucky’s Lounge in Southie. They are loud and have a considerable cover repertoire, concentrating on boomer music, befitting the audience. (Next morning note: I looked up the group and found it was the Alex MacDougall Band.)

At 6:56, a third of the seats are filled. A minute later the take-your-seats call went out.

Lynne may join us. So far, Josh Dawson from Boston Democrat and I are the visible netroots sorts.  We’re both impatient.

Monica says the Twitter followers are here, so there aren’t a flood of new questions coming in. Staffers have been circulating clipboards and soliciting questions in the crowd. That’s the old pre-tweet tweet.

At 7:06, the show is about to begin. Sons Michael and Joe stride in to open things. A cousin, Chris Evans, the Human Torch arrived, but not on fire. And as the expression goes, the crowd went wild. The are pumped and happy. They got a much more enthusiastic reception than I ever saw for Mitt Romney’s spawn.

David Bernstein joins us. Plus Kate Donaghue

7:18 Mike comes in with his wife, Barbara, and Kitty Dukakis. That’s what the crowd can add. It seems everyone has a red-white-blue poster to wave.

Mike’s wife introduces Kitty…life-long resident of Massachusetts and Brookline, champion of women’s rights, human rights and the environment. Kitty is here to “endorse my husband.” Wild applause again.

Kitty – “I see in this Mike the single most important characteristic I saw in my Michael…you cannot teach political courage…you either own it or you don’t.” (Iraq war – “Mike Capuano said, ‘No.'”) “These times do not allow on-the-job training.”

He’s committed to returning people to work and to health care for all. She endorses him and the placards dominate the room again.

6:28. Mike takes the mic. “I’m surrounded but I’m not giving up.”

He refers to predictions that this is not his time and rejects them. We’re heard this before.

He praises Kitty for her own tenacity and ability to carry on when knocked down. Perfunctory but sincere plaudits for his 89-year-old mom (been through wars herself) and his wife (love his life and best campaigner I know) follow.

He parallels himself with Ted Kennedy, particularly in relationship to opposition to the Iraq war when most legislators were tailing behind George Bush the younger. He plugs his strongest argument — he knows what he did do and how he voted, not any hypothetical.

7:39. He brought up Coakley’s boner on the health care vote. He says this issue is important and he hopes that if people decide how to vote on any one issue, this should be the one. And what do you suppose the crowd did?

7:42. Questions start, from FB, twitter, email and live.

What will you do in the Senate…to ensure that my children…are not left behind (in public schools). He voted against no child left behind. “Though the concept was right…the worst thing that was ever done to us (as a mayor) was unfunded mandates.” “The federal government should be sharing the burden of educating our children.” “The best thing the federal government should do is provide money and then get out of the way.” For me, it’s about providing funds and minimal standards.

7:48. Emigre from former Communist country asks what he can do about campaign finance reform. From alderman to this Senate contest, he’s not the best at raising money because he doesn’t know those people, particularly those who want something in return.

Fund raising takes too much of his time. He’s a prime sponsor of the Connecticut model of public financing of campaigns for the nation. Otherwise “you run the risk of having nothing but millionaires running for public office.” Ordinary people could never run without either pubic funding or doing what we do now.

7:53. East Boston school teacher asks about creating jobs. Mike admits that “everyone got nervous” so Congress didn’t do as much about creating as saving jobs.The only way to move forward is for the federal government to act strongly. “Otherwise this depression, recession, whatever you call it is going to last far too long.” He calls for the public to have “properly placed anger.”

Josh notes that many Tom Menino folk are in the crowd, all wearing Capuano stickers.

7:58. “I believe that the beauty of the American public school system is that they accept every single child who walks through that door.” He says he is a fighter for public schools. Egalitarian schooling is the system he’ll defend with his last breath.

8:01. Undecided voter asks what he’s say to Sen. Joe Lieberman. Mike would ask how Joe would have voted on Social Security, Medicare, civil rights. The time will come when Lieberman will regret voting to deny health care for every American.

If you (Lieberman) insist on voting against this bill, come with Mike to an emergency room and perform triage, determining who will get care and who will be denied. If he can do that and still be against the bill, Mike would do everything in his power to see him defeated in the next election.

The emcee says over 1,200 showed.

8:08. How will we fund the health-care act. He says he is a social liberal and that means he owe everyone and they owe him basic rights, including affordable health care and housing. He’s a fiscal conservative. If you want virtually anything, “we have to provide money to do that.”

He says the bill just passed by the House will not add to the deficit, but actually lower it over the next decade. “Those of us who have a few dollars more should be happy to pay a little more.”

“In return, we’ll get health care and our society will be able to look itself in the mirror.”

8:15. He ends up contrasting himself with those (unnamed AGs) who hide in offices, send out press releases and avoid debates. The crowd does what?

He says he trusts voters and will win. He called for people to get his message out in this last 30 days. Small turnout…you know who the good voters…email, talk, call…when they come over for Thanksgiving, don’t let them leave until they’re committed.


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