Rachel Maddow Debunks GOP Gubernatorial Candidate’s Bogus Heart-Tugging Campaign Story

On Thursday night’s episode of The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow focused on Massachusetts’ gubernatorial race between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker. Despite the state’s liberal leanings, Baker has pulled ahead in a tight race. Earlier this week, Baker appeared to put the nail in the coffin when he detailed a tearjerking story of a New Bedford fisherman who feels he’s ruined his sons’ lives due to the regulations that are choking the fishing industry. The story came up during Tuesday’s debate, when the moderator asked the candidates to recount the last time they’ve cried.

Baker got very emotional as he described the story of him meeting with a huge fisherman in the fishing community of New Bedford as he was out on the campaign trail. He waxed poetic as he described the size of the man, saying the fisherman was ”big huge man, completely soaked in sweat and salt water” and it was like “hugging a mountain.” He then talked about how the fisherman had two sons who were standout athletes at New Bedford High School and had football scholarships to play in college. However, the dad had told the sons that they were going to be fishermen, just like all the men in the family. The fisherman now felt that he’d ruined the sons’ lives due to the struggles facing the local fishing industry.

As Baker told the story, he became emotional and choked back tears, his voice wavering. Immediately, this became THE story of not only the debate, but the campaign as a whole. With a week left, it appeared that Baker’s story would be enough to sway undecided voters his way as he had shown raw emotion and proved to voters that he wasn’t just another stiff politician. However, a problem soon arose. Obviously, with a story like that and the details Baker provided, the news media would be on the hunt for the fisherman so they could score an interview. It now appears that Baker may have made up the whole thing.

During Maddow’s broadcast, she described the impact of the debate performance and then discussed how local media are unable to find anybody fitting that description in New Bedford. Below is video of the segment, courtesy of MSNBC:



The Boston Globe has tried to find Baker’s fisherman without success. Baker has now said that his encounter with the fisherman actually occurred in 2009 and not during this campaign. His campaign also said that the fisherman may have just been fishing in New Bedford but not from the town. They also said that Baker may have gotten a few details wrong, such as the sons playing football. Instead, they may have had other athletic scholarships, or the father may have embellished the tale told to Baker.

People from New Bedford say they have no idea who Baker is talking about. They say there is no local fisherman that fits the description Baker gave who has two sons who played high school football (or other sports) that went into the fishing industry with their father. When they extend the search to surrounding towns, the Globe found a few potential candidates. However, all of them have denied meeting Baker and having an emotional encounter.

For Baker’s part, he is sticking to his story. He says he may have gotten some details wrong, but the meeting happened. As Baker told the Globe, the fisherman “certainly existed for me.” At this point, it is looking more and more that Baker told a huge whopper of a fish tale. While you may be able to pull swing votes by tugging on heartstrings, you can lose even more if you’re exposed as a fraud.

View Comments

  • When were Republicans ever afraid of making up stories out of whole cloth? Back in the 1950s, maybe. Now it is their national pastime: disseminating false or speculative information and swearing it's the absolute truth. "How should I know, I'm not a scientist," they say. If a Republican told me the sky is blue I'd stick my head out of the window to check. And so should we all for every statement they make, especially in their political ad campaigns.

    • you should also check for your wallet if one of them shakes your hand... and maybe also for your wrist watch if you wear one...

  • wait for the story about the woman he ran into with the 10 year old daughter that got the Gardasil shot and now has a retarded daughter... he cried about it last night...

  • In order to cry, ond needs feelings, the ability to sympathize with another. It requires having a heart, which the GOP lack. Of course he lied!I doubt Coakley is losing. ALL these polls have Democrats losing, has anybody else notice? The sole exception being the gubernatorial race in PA, the pollsters and media are not taking into account the anger voters have toward the GOP. The Dems will have a great night.

    • Some of it may be from flawed and/or outdated polling methods, but a lot of it is intended to discourage voters by making them think all is lost. Republican politicians are the worst kind of con-artists. I don't know what we can do to counter their lies, but something needs to be done because we have too many gullible people in this country.

  • In fact, there are actually ways to bias legitimate polls. It is done in part for a bandwagon effect, but more and more to provide cover for election hijacking

  • “certainly existed for me.”

    That's a liars way of saying I made it up, but it was in my mind, so it was real. Maybe he should have taken up acting instead of going into politics. Then again most politicians, especially the crooks are very good actors.

  • I guess we'll have to wait until the oceans have no fish, completely saturated with trash and acidic to the point where you can't dangle your feet in them for people to realize we better regulate and enforce extreme conservation tactics.

    Having just visited a seaside town reliant on fishing and tourism in the northwest, I watched as people ordered fish dinners, then ate half of them due to huge servings.

    Those creatures died so we can throw them away wastefully.

    We're heading towards a clash of consumption versus finite resources and not only do we need many of those resources for food, but they are part of our ecosystem which we also depend on.

    Like cutting down more trees to create more cheap furniture to replace existing cheap furniture as this years newest fads.

    Consumption as an economic engine cannot continue, at least with finite resources.

    We're headed towards a come to poppa moment and it ain't going to be pretty.

  • Charlie...taking a page out of Paul Ryan's playbook....remember the little boy who wouldnt take the free lunch story?

  • Whatwhatwhat?
    A Republican made up a story to try and help himself in a political campaign?!?
    (extreme sarcasm) Nooooo, really? (end sarcasm)
    Anyone who's surprised about what Baker did is really ignorant. This is EXACTLY what Fascist regimes like the GOP do. ssmdh

  • This all reminded me of that special episode of "The Mod Squad" where "Link" cried.

    This really tugged at mt heartstr...Oh BULLSH@T!

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