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Keller @ Large: Baker's COVID-19 Response Earns Praise From Biden To Democrats' Dismay

BOSTON (CBS) - During a virtual meeting yesterday discussing vaccination progress with an array of governors, President Biden greeted Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Massachusetts) with comments that are sure to wind up in a potential Baker re-election ad. "You've been doing a hell of a job across the board, you really have," said the president. "Hope that doesn't ruin your reputation coming from a Democrat, but you're doing a hell of a job."

What a lovefest and what a bummer for Massachusetts Democrats who hope to oust Baker next year should he run again.

David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, couldn't believe his ears. "He chose a very generous way of offering his gratitude to Governor Baker, almost as if he were trying to talk off any serious Democrat from challenging Baker," he said.

We wondered if former State Senator Ben Downing, the only prominent Democrat to declare a run against Baker so far, if he agreed with Mr. Biden's assessment of the governor's vaccination management. "It pains me to say so, but no," he said. "I am glad that we have finally started to get it right, but being better than 47, 48, 49 other states that are doing poorly isn't good enough."

Between the early website fiascos and still-lagging vaccination numbers for Blacks and Hispanics, Baker's performance hasn't been flawless. But Paleologos's most recent polling shows voters still giving Baker the high approval ratings he's become used to.

"The question is how much do you have to talk Democrats and independents off of Charlie Baker right now when he's had so many years of pretty good numbers," said Paleologos.

And what would Downing say to Biden if he could have his ear?

"Mister President, you're only getting a brief snapshot of the challenges that we've dealt with here."

But with signs of economic revitalization emerging as we approach an end to the pandemic, are there reasons to hope for the Democrats?

Sure there are.

Start with history: President George H.W. Bush scored the highest presidential approval ratings in modern history in the spring of 1991 after his successful prosecution of the Gulf War; by November 1992, he was a defeated one-term president.

Along with Downing, Attorney General Maura Healey is still mulling a run, and she has positive approval ratings that approach Baker's.

And remember Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. There is no such thing as an election that's in the bag 18 months before voting day.

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