President Obama is planning a last-minute visit to Massachusetts to campaign for an embattled Democratic candidate there as concern mounts among national and state party leaders about the possibility of ceding their 60th Senate vote to Republicans.
The entry of Obama into the campaign comes as the battle between Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley and Republican State Sen. Scott Brown appears surprisingly close in some polls before Tuesday's election with Democrats increasingly on edge.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs took a shot at Brown during a press briefing today, saying Brown "feels comfortable fighting for the insurance industry and big banks." Gibbs also described the special election as "a referendum on who's side are you on," not on President Obama.
Massachusetts, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than three to one, has long been a Democratic stronghold, sending two Democratic senators to Washington for each of the past 31 years.
Obama's visit, as well as other high-profile Democrats', signals a last ditch effort to try to energize the Democratic base and counteract what some party members speculate has been a defection of independent voters to Brown.
Former President Bill Clinton is appearing with Coakley at two campaign events today. Ted Kennedy's widow, Vicki, is appearing in a television ad, and earlier this week President Obama taped a last-minute phone appeal.
In a robo-call going out across Massachusetts today, Obama says he rarely makes such calls but "the stakes are so high."
Click HERE to listen to the robo-call.
At risk for Democrats is a key senate seat, the legacy of a political dynasty and maybe even the future of national health care legislation. Democrats have a bare legislative majority in the U.S. Senate with 60 votes, and losing the Massachusetts seat to a Republican could prove decisive.
If elected, Brown said, he would vote against the Democrats' health care overhaul bill "It's not good for Massachusetts and it's, quite frankly, not good for the country," he said.
Fearing such a possibility, national Democratic groups have poured more than $1 million into the campaign to retain their stronghold in one of the bluest of blue states.
Kennedy's senate seat has been occupied by Sen. Paul Kirk, a Democrat, since his gubernatorial appointment in September, a month after Kennedy's death.
But Republicans, including candidate Brown, are optimistic that Democratic domination of Massachusetts' Senate seats may soon be history.
"With all due respect, it's not Ted Kennedy's seat, it's the people's seat," Brown, 50, said during a recent debate with his rival.
The state senator's candidacy has energized Republicans and Tea Party activists who have poured money into the state to help him campaign. A Republican source familiar with Scott Brown's fundraising told ABC News that Brown has raised more than $1 million online every day this week.
"There's real energy," Brown said. "My phone banks are full. We raised $1.35 million in a day. And I'm going to use every penny of it to fight back against the onslaught that's coming."