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Obama to make last-minute Senate race trip to Massachusetts

BOSTON - His health care plan in peril, President Barack Obama will make a last-minute campaign trip Sunday to Massachusetts for Democrat Martha Coakley, who is in a close race to fill the late Edward M. Kennedy's Senate seat.

Vice President Joe Biden, trying to turn the focus of the race away from the health care bill, joined the fray and sent an e-mail to Democrats, assailing Coakley's Republican rival, Scott Brown, for opposing Obama's just-announced plan to tax large Wall Street firms.

The late-game White House aggressiveness reflected a deep concern among Democrats that they could lose a seat the party has controlled for more than half a century - and with it the 60th Senate vote that blocks filibuster attempts on the health care legislation.

A poor outcome for Coakley on Tuesday would make moderate Democrats more nervous about backing Obama on other issues. On defense and on the attack, she tried Friday to appeal to an anti-government, pro-populism electorate. "I'm standing with Main Street on this one. Scott Brown stands with Wall Street," she said.

Brown countered at a campaign event later: "There's only one candidate in this race who's a tax cutter - and it's not Martha Coakley."

Democrats control 60 votes in the Senate, enough to thwart a Republican filibuster of Obama's near-complete health care plan. If Coakley wins, she has said, she will vote, as Kennedy did, with the 57 other Democrats and two independents who side with them.

Brown has made clear he would vote against the health plan, which all other Republicans oppose, giving Senate Republicans the 41st vote they need to block the legislation.

The state's Secretary of State William F. Galvin, Massachusetts' top election official, said certifying Tuesday's results could take more than two weeks, maybe enough time for Democrats to push Obama's signature legislation through Congress before Brown could take office.

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