Baker: ‘No one elected me to worry about presidential politics’

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STATE HOUSE — Continuing to keep his distance from the simmering race for the nation’s highest office, Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday deflected a radio show host’s assertion that his politics are closer to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s than to Republican presidential candidates like Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Donald Trump.

During an “Ask the Governor” segment, WGBH host Jim Braude twice pressed the idea that Baker, a Republican, may be more ideologically closer to Clinton than GOP candidates. The governor responded by saying he agreed with candidates on some topics and not on others.

“I think that at this point in time we have a long way to go,” Baker observed.

Rather than engaging in presidential politics, the governor said he spends most of his time worrying about matters in Massachusetts, describing that approach as “good news for your listeners.”

Baker added, “In addition to the fact that no one elected me to worry about presidential politics, we’re still pretty early in that process. There’s a long way to go.”

Baker has been willing to engage lately in local politics, hoping to influence voters as they decide races for mayor and city council.

Baker has gotten behind Republican Rep. Geoff Diehl’s candidacy for state Senate, Democrat Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch’s re-election effort, Republican Sen. Robert Hedlund’s campaign to become mayor of Weymouth, and Lowell City Council candidate Jordan Gys, a Republican who helped out on Baker’s campaign for governor last year.

Trump plans to visit Tyngsborough on Friday for a rally at an elementary school. It’s Trump’s second visit to Massachusetts after he attended a campaign event in August at the Norwood home of car dealership magnate Ernie Boch Jr.

While Baker has knocked Trump in the past, Democratic Party officials on Thursday called on the governor to denounce Trump’s comments regarding hiring working mothers, former prisoner of war Sen. John McCain, Mexican immigrants, and climate change.

“Donald Trump is unfit to lead our nation. Voters expect leadership from our governor and instead Charlie Baker looks afraid to anger the most conservative base of his Party,” Massachusetts Democratic Party Treasurer Nicole LaChappelle said in a statement. “Republican Baker has already been traveling all over the country on behalf of the national Republican Party. By remaining quiet when divisive Republicans like Donald Trump come to Massachusetts, Republican Baker is sending a message of tacit approval.”

— Written by Michael P. Norton

Copyright State House News Service