BOSTON (CBS) – “Gov. Baker just said his loyalty is to the Republican ticket,” said Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jay Gonzalez during Tuesday night’s WBZ debate with Baker.
Gonzalez was trying hard to link Baker with a GOP president who is wildly unpopular here in Massachusetts, part of a two-year long strategy among local Democrats.
But on issue after issue, the governor in the debate made it clear he’s been busy building a wall between himself and his party’s Trump-era profile.
For instance, 80% of Republicans support the elevation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, but Baker isn’t one of them.
“I was concerned about Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination in the first place and I’m especially concerned about his confirmation at this point,” said Baker.
In the most recent Gallup poll on the subject, 88% of Republicans have a favorable view of the National Rifle Association.
“I’m getting sued right now by the NRA,” said Baker. “I got a D and an F from the NRA.”
Sixty-three percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Planned Parenthood.
“I appreciate the fact that Planned Parenthood, one of the most important organizations with respect to women’s reproductive rights in the country, has supported our campaign and many of the issues we’ve been involved in,” said Baker, who acknowledged that group has not formally endorsed him.
And remember the Trump travel ban of early last year?
“I worked hard with the attorney general and others to fight back against the travel ban,” said Baker.
His list goes on and on, and it’s working, although not without political side effects.
Some polls have shown Baker more popular among Democrats than Republicans. And if those often-debunked rumors about Baker harboring national ambitions turn out to be true, good luck. It’s hard to imagine today’s GOP welcoming Baker back with open arms.