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President Clinton Will Stump for Niki Tsongas

With a recent poll showing the special election to replace former Rep. Marty Meehan (D) closer than most Democrats would like, Democratic nominee Niki Tsongas is bringing in the big guns — literally and figuratively.

Tsongas, the widow of former Sen. Paul Tsongas (D), announced Wednesday that former President Bill Clinton — who defeated her late husband for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992 — will headline a campaign rally with her on Sept. 30 in Lowell.

“I strongly support her candidacy, am delighted she is running and Congress will be a better place because she is there,” Clinton said in a statement.

Tsongas also announced Wednesday that a group called Veterans and Military Families for Progress will endorse her today in Methuen. This could be significant because her Republican opponent, Jim Ogonowski, is an Air Force veteran.

An automated poll, conducted by Survey USA for WBZ-TV in Boston Sept. 7-9, showed Tsongas leading Ogonowski, 51 percent to 41 percent. The poll of 411 likely voters in the Oct. 16 special election had a 4.9 point error margin.

In a related development, the conservative blogger Patrick Ruffini announced this week that he is launching a fundraising drive to aid Ogonowski. “What better way to kick off 2008 than with a stunning upset in the land of Kennedy & Kerry?” Ruffini wrote on “Please chip in what you can.”

— Josh Kurtz

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