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Obama in Boston as Markey calls on party's big guns to fend off Gomez (+video)

With memories of Republican Scott Brown's upset win in the last special Senate election in the deep blue state still fresh, Markey needs Obama et al to remind voters an election is taking place.

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That challenge wasn’t lost on Markey Wednesday. He opened his speech to the crowd gathered in the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood by taking a jab at the president’s sports loyalties.

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“In a few minutes you will be hearing from a man who has the most difficult job in the United States of America,” he said. “The man I’m about to introduce is a Chicago Blackhawks fan and his job will be to present the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins,” he told the crowd to raucous cheers.

Hockey fandom aside, the president’s tone was serious as he called upon the audience to rally the party’s base in the two weeks before the election.

“This election is going to come down to turnout,” he said. “We’ve got a whole lot of Democrats in this state and a whole lot of Obama votes. But you can’t just turn out during a presidential election, you’ve got to turn out in this election.”

In fact, that was exactly the problem for Democrats the last time around. Turnout in the 2010 special election was only 54 percent, and it was lowest in the parts of the state that Obama had carried by the widest margins two years earlier. That helped create the perfect storm of political circumstances that doomed Ms. Coakley’s campaign despite her obvious partisan advantage.

Waiting for the rally to begin, Gail McCormick, a Markey canvasser in the nearby town of Arlington, said the Brown-Coakley race serves as a continuing reminder to Democratic organizers in the state.

“After Brown, we don’t take anything for granted anymore,” she said. “We’re doing whatever we can to get people to come out and vote.”

The off-year, off-season nature of the election, however, has had one marked upside for both candidates. They have both been able to rally major names in their respective parties to campaign for them. In addition to Barack Obama, Markey has also played host to first lady Michelle Obama, and Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., his campaign hosted a fundraiser attended by Al Gore and Vice President Joe Biden. (Markey himself had to stay in Massachusetts to participate in a debate.)

For his part, Mr. Gomez has campaigned beside Sen. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani in recent weeks, helping to boost his image as an independently-minded Republican.

The Markey campaign also announced Wednesday that former president Bill Clinton will join him at a rally in Worcester Saturday. The election is scheduled for June 25.

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