Reporting Jon Keller
BOSTON (AP) — President Barack Obama arrived Wednesday in Boston to stump for Democrat Edward Markey, hoping to give the veteran congressman the edge over Republican Gabriel Gomez in the state’s special election for the U.S. Senate.
“This guy has been fighting for Massachusetts for a very long time,” Obama said of Markey during a brief stop in the city’s South End neighborhood, where they visited a sandwich shop to chat with lunchtime patrons and workers.
Obama will be the main attraction at a Markey campaign rally in Roxbury later in the day.
The president was greeted by Markey, Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino after Air Force One landed late Wednesday morning at Logan Airport.
Markey said Tuesday that he was proud to have Obama campaign with him because he shared the same values as the president.
Gomez, a businessman and former Navy SEAL, also campaigned Wednesday. He was scheduled to participate in a technology round-table in Waltham before meeting with veterans in Chelsea.
Obama’s visit comes a day after Gomez and Markey squared off in a debate in Springfield and sparred on topics including tax policy, the minimum wage and the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs of Americans’ phone and Internet records.
Gomez said after the debate that he’d sent a letter to the president, welcoming him to Massachusetts.
“I’m honored that he’s coming here because of me and I feel that, obviously, Congressman Markey is running scared, and he’s bringing in the rest of his D.C. team,” said Gomez.
“I have a lot of respect for the president. My letter says, ‘Welcome to Boston, I want to work with you when I get down there,’” Gomez added.
Markey dismissed any notion that he was worried about recent polls that pointed to a tightening race, and said his opponent had brought some Republican heavyweights into Boston.
“Mr. Gomez brought in John McCain, Mr. Gomez brought in Rudy Giuliani, and he shares their values,” Markey said. “President Obama is coming in for me, and I share his values.”
A Suffolk University poll released Monday shows Markey winning the backing of 48 percent of voters compared with 41 percent for Republican Gabriel Gomez as the special election heads into its final two weeks.
The poll of 500 voters had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points and was conducted June 6-9. Markey’s lead has narrowed compared with an earlier Suffolk poll, which found 52 percent favoring Markey and 35 percent backing Gomez.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Bernice Corpuz reports
Tuesday’s debate was sponsored by a Springfield media consortium and took place in the studios of WGBY-TV.
Also Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden attended a joint fundraiser for Markey and the Massachusetts State Democratic Party in Washington hosted by former Vice President Al Gore and Vicki Kennedy. Markey’s campaign would not say how much money it expected to raise.
The election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of John Kerry is June 25.
Associated Press writers Josh Lederman and Bob Salsberg contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.