- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - Hillary Clinton, on a whirlwind tour of New England to boost Democratic gubernatorial candidates ahead of the November elections, hammered on women’s and family issues at a campaign rally Friday for Martha Coakley in downtown Boston.

In a forceful voice that brought loud applause from a packed ballroom crowd, Clinton touched on many of the issues that have been the focus for Democratic campaigns across the country in this midterm election: equal pay, better child care, sick day and family leave benefits, reproductive rights.

“We desperately need to continue the fight, the struggle, the progress,” she told the crowd at the Park Plaza Hotel. “You have to ask yourself: Why, after women have contributed so much to our economy, some people still act like it’s 1955. Isn’t it amazing that we’re still debating that women deserve equal pay for equal work?”

Too many women still are earning minimum wage, Clinton said, working in jobs like hairdressers and waitresses where they are expected to earn their pay largely through tips.

“So many women are working harder than ever to lift themselves and their families into the middle class, and so many more are trying to stay in the middle class,” she said.

The former first lady, secretary of state, U.S. senator and likely 2016 presidential candidate also recounted her challenges being a young working mother raising daughter Chelsea, who recently gave birth to her first child, Charlotte.

In a folksy tone, she wrapped up her 25-minute-long remarks talking about how she swapped stories of children and grandchildren before the rally with other prominent politicians, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Deval Patrick.

“When all is said and done, that’s what this is all about: How do we give the best future for every child,” said Clinton, who was set to head to Providence, Rhode Island, to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo later Friday.

She was also expected to appear in Maine on Friday to campaign with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Rep. Mike Michaud.

Coakley, the state’s attorney general, is looking to regain momentum in her race against Republican candidate Charlie Baker as Nov. 4 approaches.

A poll released Thursday by The Boston Globe showed Baker with an advantage of 9 percentage points in a survey that carried a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Coakley’s campaign has called the Globe poll an “outlier” and said other polls suggest a much closer race.

Coakley has also been outspent by her GOP rival. Through 2014, Baker has raised $3.6 million, spent nearly $3 million and has about $1.2 million on hand. Coakley has $2.6 million raised, $2.8 million spent and nearly $300,000 on hand.

Coakley’s campaign said a small, private fundraiser before the rally with Clinton raised about $500,000.

Former President Bill Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama have already campaigned with Coakley, and Vice President Joe Biden will headline a Coakley fundraiser in Boston on Oct. 29.

Baker, a former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, meanwhile, has been helped this year by former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a possible 2016 presidential candidate.

Three independent candidates for governor are also on the Massachusetts ballot.

___

Associated Press writer Steve LeBlanc in Boston contributed to this report.

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