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October 29, 2012

Tierney finds warm reception amid difficult campaign


“We try to do this every couple of weeks during the year and every few days during the campaign,” Tierney said of his walking tours through cities and towns in the district, meeting with voters, business owners and city workers.

This easygoing guy is the Tierney you don’t see when he’s answering questions about his brothers-in-law’s illegal gambling business in Antigua or in fierce debates with Republican opponent Richard Tisei, for whom Tierney cannot hide his contempt.

The congressman is not the guy-you-want-to-have-a-beer-with type of politician, and he can often come across as defensive and guarded in interviews and on television. But strolling with Tierney on the campaign trail in his hometown — a location picked by the campaign for this media tag-along — it’s obvious that there are still many people who have his back.

His pleasant disposition is a stark contrast to the gloomy mailers sent out by the Republican opposition, casting Tierney as a shadowy, two-faced liar, if not a criminal, and his wife, Patrice, as a conniving and unsavory character.

“The people in the 37 cities and towns in this district know me and are turned off by it,” Tierney said of the negative ads.

The saga of Patrice’s legal woes has become so entrenched during the campaign that it’s almost odd to hear Tierney speak of his wife in different context — a normal one.

Tierney bites into a delicious-looking pastry at A&J King Artisan Bakers and laments, “I gotta stop.”

“I’m going to tell Patrice,” jokes Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who is accompanying Tierney on the walkabout today.

“Are you kidding? She’s an enabler,” Tierney says. “Last night, I get home after a really long day and she had ice cream. She can take a bite of one sweet thing and stop, but not me.”

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