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Barney Frank campaigns locally for Elizabeth Warren

  • Barney Frank campaigning for Elizabeth Warren at the Northampton head quarters Friday morning. <br/><br/>
  • Barney Frank campaigning for Elizabeth Warren at the Northampton head quarters Friday morning. <br/><br/>
  • Barney Frank campaigning for Elizabeth Warren at the Northampton head quarters Friday morning. <br/><br/>
  • Barney Frank campaigning for Elizabeth Warren at the Northampton head quarters Friday morning. <br/><br/>
  • Barney Frank campaigning for Elizabeth Warren at the Northampton head quarters Friday morning. <br/><br/>

— U.S. Rep. Barney Frank has no intention of fading from public life when he retires at the end of the year after 32 years in Congress.

The well-known Newton Democrat proved as much Friday during a swing through the Valley to stump for Democrat Elizabeth Warren in her battle for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

“I want to still be active in the public debate without being in office,” Frank said, noting that he intends to write books, lecture and do TV commentary.

But his primary goal Friday and for the next four days is to help get Warren elected. In a sort of “rally the troops” visit to Springfield and Northampton, Frank lauded the Warren volunteers for their hard work.

“I know people sometimes have this view of campaigning that it’s going to be this glamorous, high-level thing,” Frank told about 40 supporters at Warren’s campaign headquarters on Strong Avenue. “No, it’s literally pounding the pavement.”

In a 12-minute speech, Frank focused on the Warren-Brown race and what the outcome will mean for Massachusetts and the country. He also talked about the race for president.

Sporting a blue suit and tie, Frank signed autographs and posed for pictures. He also took questions from the press, warning that the stakes in Tuesday’s election “couldn’t be higher” for the country.

Frank acknowledged that politicians often say the next election is critical, but he believes he has more credibility this year because he is retiring and doesn’t have a job on the line for the first time in 40 years.

“One of the advantages of retirement for me is I intend to keep talking a lot about public policy,” he said.

Frank also spoke glowingly of Warren, who he dubbed an “extraordinary candidate.” He credited Warren for helping create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a credit card bill. He said she would enter the Senate with a greater legislative record than a lot of senators who are leaving.

“She’s a very talented, creative individual,” Frank said. “She will, the day she arrives in the Senate, be a national figure.”

Frank also warned of far-right leadership in the Republican Party gaining control of the Senate should they become the majority. He said Brown’s “first vote and his most important role” will be to help the conservatives elect GOP U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell as majority leader. McConnell and other Republican leaders have said that their No. 1 job is to make President Barack Obama a one-term president.

Frank criticized the Republican Party for causing gridlock in Washington in the last four years, saying the far right brought bipartisanship to a halt in 2009 after the Democratic leadership and the Bush administration had worked to piece together initiatives in the face of a collapsing economy.

“Bipartisanship ended in America the day Barack Obama took office when the Republican party said ... let’s stop governing and start sabotaging,” Frank said.

Brown has talked about his bipartisan voting record since taking office and about how that type of leadership is key to moving the country forward. He argues the country needs more moderate legislators to put “people over party,” the theme he’s stressing during the last week of the campaign.

Frank credited Brown for breaking party ranks to back the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform package in 2010, but added that if the Republican Party takes control of the Senate, he believes Brown’s moderate approach won’t hold up to the demands of the far right.

“All of the areas where he takes credit for voting with us will not happen if he is successful in making the Republicans the majority party,” Frank said.

“By the way, they know that. He has been the beneficiary of nationwide Republican fundraising based on the fact that if he wins, they are much likelier to take over the Senate.”

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