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(Boston, MA,10/15/13)   Republican Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker talks to the Herald at Harry's Bar and Grill. Tuesday,  October  15, 2013.  (Staff photo by Stuart Cahill)
So yesterday, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker (R. MA) had this to say regarding the Supreme Court's ruling on the Hobby Lobby case:

To Charlie Baker, the likely GOP gubernatorial nominee? “It doesn’t matter.”

“What I care about is Massachusetts, and in Massachusetts it doesn’t change a thing,” Baker said Wednesday. “Which is great.”

The birth control coverage mandate in Massachusetts’s health care law, Baker explained, would likely go forward unaffected.

“In Massachusetts, the terms of our law, I think have worked for everybody involved, and I think can continue to work going forward,” Baker said.

Baker’s artful dodge on the Hobby Lobby points up the challenge for a member of his party seeking statewide office here: to confine the conversation to as local an arena as possible. The brand of conservatism prevalent in the national Republican Party is essentially a non-starter with a broadest swath of the Massachusetts electorate.

His comments drew a rebuke from Congresswoman Katherine Clark, who told the Globe in a telephone interview that they made Baker seem disconnected from his desired constituency.

The Hobby Lobby case, Clark said, “absolutely matters. And I think that it is irresponsible and out of touch of Charlie Baker to think otherwise.”

While state law provides for contraception coverage, Clark pointed to the prospect that the Supreme Court decision could be used to erode that access in the future.

“It’s about access to basic health care. I don’t think the women of Massachusetts should have to worry that their next governor doesn’t understand that,” Clark said.

“If he doesn’t understand that, I don’t think he should be running for governor,” she added. - Boston Globe, 7/9/14

Now of course some people try to claim that Baker's remarks won't hurt him in the general election:

Let us now take a moment to review the entire history of successful Republican statewide campaigns since the turn of the century.

2002: A successful Catholic woman holding statewide office (Shannon O’Brien) wins the Democratic nomination for governor, and appears to have the advantage over the tall, good-looking non-Catholic Republican man (Mitt Romney) trying to sell himself as a moderate. Then she speaks up against parental notification for 16-year-olds seeking an abortion, and the non-Catholic Republican is able to peel away enough voters in this Catholic-heavy state to win.

2010: A successful Catholic woman statewide officeholder (Martha Coakley) wins the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, and appears to have the advantage over the tall, good-looking, non-Catholic Republican man (Scott Brown) trying to sell himself as a moderate. Then she and the state Democratic Party attack their opponent for supporting the so-called abortion “conscience clause” for hospitals, and the non-Catholic Republican is able to peel away enough voters in this Catholic-heavy state to win.

End of story. For the moment.

Now, I don’t know if any of you see any kind of pattern here that might be repeating itself with Martha Coakley and another tall, good-looking non-Catholic Republican man, Charlie Baker.

And I certainly have no evidence that Baker was deliberately goading the state’s Democrats when (the day after I warned Dems to “be wary of overplaying their hand“) he told some media outlets that the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision doesn’t directly affect Massachusetts, and since that’s what he’s focused on, he isn’t terribly worried about it.

What I do know is that today my inbox is full of outraged Democrats, including all of the gubernatorial candidates, attacking Baker for his comments. I also dialed into a press conference by the party’s coordinated campaign chairman, Ben Downing, with congresswoman Katherine Clark and former gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem, warning that, as Clark put it, “this gives us a real insight into where Charlie Baker’s priorities are.” - Boston Magazine, 7/10/14

But it's clear Baker's nervous about his latest remarks:

Under attack from Democrats, Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker backed away Thursday from remarks he made Wednesday that downplayed the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on insurance coverage for contraception.

In a statement released Thursday, Baker said he was “deeply concerned” that his comments may have led voters to believe that he does not support women’s access to birth control coverage. And he said he misspoke when he said the ruling would not affect women in Massachusetts.

“I have always, and will as governor, support women’s right to access comprehensive health care and I am glad that Massachusetts has for more than a decade required insurers to provide contraceptive coverage,” Baker said in his statement Thursday. “This issue is immensely important to me which is why I am deeply concerned that my statement yesterday may have led some to believe otherwise. I will strive to make my lifelong commitment to women’s health crystal clear.”

Baker also said he was wrong to suggest Wednesday that the ruling would not affect Massachusetts.

“It is true that some segment of employers, who self-insure, have been exempt from the state’s mandate but are now subject to a contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act,” he said Thursday. “I misspoke yesterday because it is possible, given the Hobby Lobby decision, that a small segment of employers could qualify for the narrow exemption to the mandate that the Supreme Court deemed permissible.” - Boston Globe, 7/10/14

So I guess I'm seeing a pattern here.  Plus Catholics voters support birth control so not much of an argument there.  I'll be talking about the Democratic primary soon but either way, looking forward to defeating Baker come November.

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 12:34 PM PDT.

Also republished by Massachusetts Kosmopolitans and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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