Charlie Baker Reacts to Emotional Massachusetts Governor’s Debate Moment

The GOP candidate started crying when recalling the personal story of a troubled fisherman

Charlie Baker is reacting to a moment in Tuesday's Massachusetts gubernatorial debate, where the Republican candidate in the final minutes with his Democratic challenger, Martha Coakley, was asked about the last time they cried.

Baker said it was Saturday, when he recalled a story from his 2010 race about a fisherman he'd met in New Bedford who was distraught over steering his sons away from college scholarships and into what is now a very troubled fishing industry.

"And he said, they were both spectacular football players at New Bedford High School who were given college scholarships, to go play football, and I told them no,' and I said 'You're,'" Baker said, before getting choked up on television.

Now many are speculating how Baker's emotional moment might affect voters in a race that's locked in a dead heat.

"I'm sure that's one more data point in a whole bunch of data points that people will factor into their decision making," Baker said Wednesday.

Reaction has been mixed; some feel it's a potentially pivotal moment for the GOP hopeful as it neutralizes an oft-repeated criticism by Coakley that he is a candidate who only sees numbers and ledgers while she sees people, an argument she stands by.

"His first reaction based on his history, what we said throughout this campaign is to cut services as he did when he was in government, to lay people off as he did both in government and at Harvard Pilgrim and to outsource jobs," she said.

Others feel the incident was more calculated.

"This is part of a larger strategy. This is not a game changer. What is has done, however, is to push Coakley aside during this 24-hour news cycle. She's off on page eight, he's on page one," Tufts political science professor Jeff Berry said.

Coakley said she couldn't say if it would have played out differently if their roles had been reversed.

"There are emotional moments for people, so I can't speak to that," she said.

As for the subject of Baker's story, did he ever follow up with the fisherman again? Baker said he hasn't.

"It was a private conversation and a revealing moment for him, and I'm not sure that's the sort of thing - on some level, I'm not sure I should have even told the story, to tell you the truth," he said. 

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