- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley is calling for at least six debates with her Republican and independent opponents between now and Election Day.

Coakley said the debates should not only include Republican nominee Charlie Baker, but also the three independent candidates: Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively and Jeff McCormick.

Baker campaign spokesman Tim Buckley said Baker looks forward to giving voters a chance to see the differences between Coakley’s “campaign for higher taxes and Charlie’s positive vision for Massachusetts where everyone who wants to work can.”

Buckley said Baker expects to have some “one-on-one” opportunities with Coakley.

Coakley said the campaign has been reviewing the debate invitations. She said she’s committed to at least six “regionally balanced” debates in different parts of the state.

Both candidates spent Friday courting voters.

Baker toured downtown Quincy with the city’s mayor, Thomas Koch, a Democrat who supported Steven Grossman in the Democratic primary for governor. Koch hasn’t endorsed in the general election.

Baker later visited with senior citizens at the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center’s Brighton House in Boston.

Coakley joined the Democratic nominee for attorney general, Maura Healey, and U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano to greet diners at the Warren Tavern in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston.

Coakley downplayed Baker’s tour of Quincy, saying she also plans to visit the city.

To win in November, Baker also has to appeal to independents and moderate Democrats.

During the Charlestown campaign stop, Coakley was asked about her campaign pledge to institute universal prekindergarten education in Massachusetts.

Coakley said she doesn’t yet have a cost estimate for the plan.

“We know there’s a price tag to it. I can’t think of anything else in Massachusetts that’s more important,” she said. “We’re going to come in halfway through a budget. We’ll find the way to pay for it.”

Coakley said she’ll be looking for ways to make the state government more efficient, but wouldn’t rule out higher taxes as a last resort.

“Every Democrat has said this. We’re not afraid to make the case if we need to do it, but we need to make the case and we need to get the public on board with that,” she said. “I don’t believe we need to do that.”

The candidates are planning to hit the campaign trail again Saturday.

Coakley and the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, Steve Kerrigan, are hoping to get a boost from members of the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation.

Congressman Joe Kennedy will join the two to greet diners at a luncheonette and ice cream parlor in Newton. Coakley and Kerrigan then attend a Democratic unity event and Puerto Rican bakery in Springfield.

The two will also receive the formal endorsement of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Somerville.

Baker is planning to visit the Big E Festival in West Springfield on Saturday with Springfield City Councilor Tim Rooke. His running mate, Karyn Polito, will visit Wellesley, South Boston, Norwood, and Quincy.

The election is Nov. 4.

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