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Race for the Senate

Gomez calls Markey ‘pond scum’

Claims dirty campaigning

Republican candidate Gabriel E. Gomez ignited controversy on Thursday by calling his Democratic opponent for US Senate, a sitting congressman, “pond scum,” in an interview with a National Public Radio reporter on Thursday.

Asked whether his candidate regretted his remarks, spokesman Will Ritter recounted that Gomez not only didn’t regret it, but went further in a television interview Thursday evening:

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“I was surprised at the controversy,” Ritter recounted Gomez saying. “Pond scum currently has a higher approval rating than Congress.”

Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, has been emphasizing the bruises he is getting in his first statewide campaign, to claim his Democratic opponent, US Representative Edward J. Markey, is waging a dirty campaign. Meanwhile, Gomez’s own claims are also harsh, as he bats back Markey’s negative advertising with increasingly vitrioic language.

The video that spurred the “pond scum” reference was Markey’s Web ad showing Gomez on a split screen with Osama bin Laden. The images of Gomez used in the video came from his TV appearance speaking for OPSEC, a group of former military officers who waged a video campaign against President Obama in the months before the 2012 election.

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Gomez and the group had accused the president of taking too much credit for the raid that killed the terrorrist leader and of putting servicemen’s lives at risk with intelligence leaks. The image of bin Laden came from the controversial 18-minute video that OPSEC produced — a documentary that led many Democratic defenders to claim OPSEC was trying to “swift boat” the president by trying to turn his best military victory into a negative. The OPSEC video also included numerous images of President Obama.

In recent days, Gomez amped up the offense he takes to Markey’s video and began reminding reporters of the context of the raid in which bin Laden was killed. Gomez, too, served as a Navy SEAL, he notes, and his four children should not have to see him being compared to Osama bin Laden.

“To put me next to bin laden?” Gomez said in the the interview with NPR. “A former SEAL — maybe he doesn’t realized who actually killed bin Laden. The SEALs did.”

“For him to be as dirty and low, pond scum, to like, put me up next to bin Laden, he’s just got to be called what he is. It’s that simple.”

This week, Gomez began running an ad claiming Markey is attacking him and suggesting he’s a typical politician.

An ad he released Tuesday accuses Markey of “smearing Gabriel Gomez, comparing him to bin Laden,” and asserts, “Now, Markey actually blames Gomez for the Newtown shootings. Disgusting!” That reference is to Markey’s television ad highlighting Gomez’s resistance to banning assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, noting they were used in the shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Gomez has complained that Markey is “blaming” him for the Newtown shootings.

Markey spokesman Andrew Zucker said in a statement: “Gabriel Gomez has reached a new low.

“Unfortunately for Gomez, his desperate attack will do nothing to distract from his opposition to an assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines, his role as spokesman for a group that tried to swift-boat President Obama or his refusal to release his 2005 tax return that would reveal how much he pocketed from taking a questionable $280,000 tax break on his Cohasset home,” Zucker said.

Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at ebbert@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @stephanieebbert.
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