Rich Tarrant's name never came up during the noontime appearance of Sen . Barbara Boxer, D-Calif ., at a Burlington rally for independent Senate candidate Bernie Sanders and Democratic House candidate Peter Welch. But Tarrant, or at least the tenor of his TV ads attacking several Sanders' votes in the House that allege he is out of step with most Vermonters , was clearly on Boxer's mind.
"You never heard Bernie mention his opponent," Boxer said in remarks to the rowdy crowd of 300 at City Hall moments after Sanders had spoken. "I'm not going to, either, except to say (to Tarrant) 'Go ahead, spend all the millions you want to, rejuvenate the Vermont economy. But Bernie is going to beat you on Election Day. I don't care how nasty the ads get.'"
The comment got thunderous applause, and when I spoke with several folks afterward who had attended the event, it was clear that Tarrant's ads were on their minds, too.
"I'm surprised and saddened to hear that Tarrant's negative ads seem to have given him a bump up in the polls," said Bill Reznichek of Berkshire. "I hope it's short term and I hope Vermonters see the light eventually. I also wish Bernie would address the ads and what they say a little more substantively."
"I wonder what's the matter with him," said Mary Engel of Burlington, clutching a Bernie for Senate lawn sign. "Obviously this is not a man who has true Vermont values."
"I think the negative ads are helping Bernie, at least in Franklin County," said Jim Coutts of Swanton."People do not believe he is someone different than what Tarrant would have us believe."
No matter what you think of the ads, they sure have become issue No. 1 in the Senate race, at least for now. Comments?
-- Sam Hemingway