Its 6:30 p.m. at the Pittsfield Crowne Plaza, and Murrays been at it for 12 hours straight. Hes shaking the hands of people appearing out of nowhere. Hes throwing his arm around them, laughing when appropriate; furrowing his brow, and listening intently when called for. At one point, a pol from the Berkshires materializes out of the crowd, and asks Murray about how he feels about the race. We need to execute the campaign plan, Murray answers.
As the pol walks away, Murray turns to a staffer and right out of his head, lays out the guys pedigree; who he is, his importance, his history, and who hes related to/knows/works for. Another candidate would have staffers to whisper that kind of intelligence into their heads moments before needed, to be used and discarded, but not the Boy Mayor. Over and over, maybe 100 times in Pittsfield alone, he shares a greeting or shakes a hand and from the tip of his tongue, runs down the particulars on that individual.
Compare that to the former presidential candidate and junior senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry. At the same Pittsfield event in which Murray seems to know everybody and everything about them , Kerry greets someone over the PA as an old friend, and mispronounces his last name badly.
Maybe its stubbornness, maybe its habitual competitiveness, both qualities for which the candidate is known, but as one staffer reveals, Murray wants do to it without help. Most of the time, he has no desire to have anyone help him remember names or identities when he is able to do it on his own. Its something he says he takes immense pride in and with good reason: Murrays mental capacity for minutia appears to be profound. At a little before 2 p.m., Murray is walking the streets of Fall River with a local guide, meeting people and pressing the flesh, looking for a place to grab a quick bite to eat (the hot dog at the earlier Jim McGovern event didnt do it.) All of a sudden Murray sees a sandwich shop down the hill. He knows it and knows who owns it. He voted for me at the state convention, he announces. Thats where were eating. Theres no point in arguing.
Theres a Worcester thing about Murray that seems to work for him, and its a regular-guy, no-special-shine-on-his-shoes quality. In the sandwich shop in Fall River, his dad tells the story of when Murray passed the bar in Massachusetts and Mr. Murray wanted to treat his boy to a nice meal, somewhere classy. Murray refused, instead insisting on Suneys. It isnt surprising at all that Murray continued to live the three-decker life deep into his tenure as mayor.
Remember that scene in Primary Colors, when a staffer finds John Travolta, playing a Clinton clone, up late having a heart-to-heart with the counter guy at a donut shop? You could see something a little like that in Murray after the final speech at the Pittsfield Crowne Plaza, (and a check-in with his family back in Worcester). The candidate, two staffers, some local reps and union officials file into a local restaurant/bar. Its noisy, the Red Sox game is on, and the place is packed. Murray immediately starts going table to table through the restaurant, shaking hands, talking to people, asking for their vote, but completely without stiffness. The mans enjoying himself. Indeed, theres a noticeable difference between this Murray and the Murray at an earlier event with party activists this Murray is looser, hes smiling a little more, his voice is a little more relaxed. Hes in his element.