SOMERVILLE -- A visibly angry Martha Coakley on Thursday demanded that Republican rival Charlie Baker condemn an outside group’s television advertisement that accuses the Democratic attorney general of not doing enough to protect children.
Coakley, who at one point choked up discussing her work on behalf of an abused youngster, called on Baker to seek the removal of the advertisement, which is paid for in part by the Republican Governors Association. The ad blames Coakley for failures in the state Department of Children and Families, or DCF, which resulted in the deaths and abuse of children.
“That is absolutely over the top, it’s outrageous, and I am disgusted by it,” said Coakley, who was flanked at her Somerville campaign headquarters by Debbie Eappen, the mother of Matthew Eappen, the 8-month-old who died in the care of his nanny, Louise Woodward, in 1997. Coakley prosecuted the case against Woodward.
She was also joined today by Democratic attorney general candidate Maura Healey, a former Coakley aide.
Coakley accused Republicans of “using child abuse as a political football.”
In response, Baker’s campaign did not directly address whether they would ask for the ad to be removed. Spokesman Tim Buckley said in an e-mail that Coakley “has yet to explain to voters her decision to fight child protection advocates seeking to reform a broken DCF that has placed the Commonwealth’s defenseless children in harm’s way. While Coakley defended the embattled agency and refused to call for the commissioner’s resignation,” he wrote, “Charlie Baker proposed a detailed plan to immediately fix the broken agency.”
Polls show Coakley and Baker essentially tied in the race for governor, with less than five weeks remaining before the Nov. 4 election.
Earlier in the campaign, Coakley had called on Baker to sign a pact designed to limit outside advertising, which Baker declined. Asked Thursday whether she would insist that anti-Baker super PAC ads funded by her allies be removed, Coakley demurred.
An aide later said that Coakley was not asking for Baker to call for the removal of other GOP super PAC ads, just the one discussing child abuse.
Watch the TV ad below: