January 19th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

How would Dems explain loss of Kennedy's Mass. Senate seat?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

What once seemed unthinkable might just become reality: Democrats are in jeopardy of losing the Massachusetts Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy for almost five decades.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/19/art.t.kennedy.jpg caption="Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) lost his battle with cancer last year."]
It took just about a week for the Democratic candidate and state attorney general, Martha Coakley, to implode... Several polls released in the last few days show Coakley now trailing Republican Scott Brown - by as many as nine points. Coakley led Brown - who was unknown and underfunded - by more than 30 points back in November.

Advisers to President Obama say privately they believe Coakley will lose the special election... they've apparently grown increasingly pessimistic about her chances after a series of missteps.

Some analysts suggest that in some ways the Republicans have already won - by forcing the Democrats to invest the time and money in a race for Kennedy's old seat. The Democrats brought out their big guns in Massachusetts - including President Obama and former President Bill Clinton, but it may not be enough.

This being politics - you can bet the Democrats are already trying to figure out where to lay the blame for a potential loss. Chances are they would paint Coakley as a terrible candidate... who ran a poor campaign.

But it's clear The stakes couldn't be much higher: A defeat for the Democrats could destroy the president's attempts to push through his legislative agenda, especially health care. And - it would send a strong message to Democrats up for re-election around the country in November.

Here’s my question to you: How would Democrats explain a loss of Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Senate • Ted Kennedy
August 28th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Who will assume Sen. Kennedy's leadership role?

The American flag flies at half staff Tuesday following the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy. (PHOTO CREDIT: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to filling Sen. Ted Kennedy's leadership shoes, it doesn't seem at first glance that there is anyone who can.

As Politico puts it, no other senator possesses the combination of "celebrity, seniority, personal charm, legislative savvy and ideological zeal that made Kennedy the most effective liberal in a generation.”

Those who worked with him call Kennedy "irreplaceable.” Many have said the senator's presence was sorely missed in the health care debate. Because of his failing health, he was unable to spend much time on Capitol Hill the last few months. Although Kennedy was a staunch liberal, he was known for compromising with Republicans – a skill pretty much lacking in both parties these days.

Perhaps the only senator who had similar star power was Hillary Clinton. And, before she became Pres. Obama's secretary of state, some aides had hoped she would assume a Kennedy-like role in the Senate.

That's not to say there aren't plenty of senators who would like to assume Kennedy's role. They include folks like Senators John Kerry, Chris Dodd, Tom Harkin, Dick Durbin and Russ Feingold.

In the end though, the party may not be able to find a single figure with the personality, clout and popularity to replace Ted Kennedy. Sad really, that the greatest deliberative body in the world – home to the likes of Hubert Humphrey and Everett Dirksen – has become little more than a partisan snake pit where not a whole lot worthwhile gets done anymore.

Here’s my question to you: Who is likely to assume Ted Kennedy's leadership role in the Senate?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Senate • Ted Kennedy
August 27th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

End of Camelot mean end of Kennedys' influence?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/27/kennedy.camelot/art.1948.jfk.jpg caption=" Ted Kennedy, far right, with brothers Bobby, center, and Jack in 1948."]FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

(CNN) - Despite the fact that the second generation of Kennedys has so far failed to distinguish themselves to the degree that Jack, Robert and Ted did – a bunch of them have still managed to find their way into elected office.

In addition to finding a replacement for Ted Kennedy in the Senate, it's likely to become a bit of a parlor game trying to figure out who will eventually emerge as the political leader of the remainder of the Kennedy family.

Some of the possibilities include the late senator's sons Edward Kennedy Jr. and Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, who have been named as possible replacements for his seat, along with his nephew, former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy the second.

The Daily Beast reports that when Caroline Kennedy failed to launch a bid for Hillary Clinton's old Senate seat, many thought that meant the end of the Kennedy dynasty, but they point out there are several younger Kennedys who might just be waiting to step in including:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a lawyer and environmentalist.
Kerry Kennedy, who has led human-rights delegations to dozens of countries.
Christopher Kennedy, who's avoided politics up until now, but was seen as a possible replacement for Barack Obama's Senate seat.
-and Maria Shriver, wife to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been a very involved First Lady and is considered one of her husband's closest advisers.

Here’s my question to you: Will the end of Camelot mean the end of the Kennedys' influence in America?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Kennedy family • Ted Kennedy
August 27th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Can Sen. Kennedy's death bring bipartisanship to health care?


Can Sen. Kennedy’s death bring bipartisanship to the health care debate? (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

- Democrats are hoping that Senator Ted Kennedy's death will help breathe new life into health care reform.

Some believe the loss of Kennedy will bring a new spirit of bipartisanship to the issue, and at the very least change the tone of the debate, which has become downright nasty. Already, one group against reform has suspended its advertising out of respect for Kennedy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Kennedy's "dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration." Democrats plan to name the forthcoming legislation after the late senator.

But not everyone is so sure Kennedy's death will make any difference on the health care debate. One top Republican tells the New York Times the fight was pretty much suspended with the president on vacation and that it would likely "pick up right where we left off in a week or two."

In fact, several Republicans say they think Congress would be closer to reaching a deal if Kennedy had been healthy and involved in crafting the legislation – since he had the ability to cross the aisle and compromise.

And, it's not just Republicans who will need to start cooperating here. Some say the real question will be whether Kennedy's passing prompts Democrats who have been wavering on reform to get on board.

Here’s my question to you: Can Senator Kennedy's death revive the spirit of bipartisanship when it comes to health care reform?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Health care • Ted Kennedy