Massachusetts voters will go to the polls Tuesday to choose between Martha Coakley, the state’s Democratic attorney general, and Scott Brown, a Republican state senator, in a contest to fill the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy. (Under Massachusetts law, the state’s governor appointed Paul Kirk, a longtime Kennedy ally, to the Senate to serve as an interim Kennedy successor until a permanent replacement could be elected in Tuesday’s vote.) While Coakley was once considered the favorite in the historically Democratic state, polls and political analysts in recent days have suggested the race is tightening to the point of being a toss-up or even tilting in Brown’s favor. Brown’s momentum stems in part from his pledge, if elected, to be the one additional vote Senate Republicans need to carry off a successful filibuster of Democrats’ health care reform bill.
Asked about the closely watched race Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Republican strategist Mary Matalin said a strong showing by Brown had the potential to be a game-changer for Democrats’ agenda.
It was “once said of Mike Tyson, he hits you so hard, he changes the way you taste. If we win a seat in [Massachusetts] on the signature issue of the Obama agenda, health care, this will change the way politics tastes,” Matalin told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
A win by Scott Brown would be “apocalyptic” for Democrats, Matalin said. Should Coakley win, the fact that “we got this close, is nothing short of cataclysmic.”
“[Obama’s] agenda is going to change,” she declared.
The relief and recovery effort in n Haiti, immediate and long term, dominated the Sunday conversation, as President Obama’s point men explained and defended the administration’s response and his two immediate predecessors discussed their new joint effort to raise money and awareness for the long haul.
“We’re going to be here as long as we are needed,” was Army Lt. Gen. P.K. Keen’s message from Port-Au-Prince.
“Our goal and our metric of success is to be able to do more every single day,” was the standard set by Dr. Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Seated side-by-side in the Map Room of the White House where each worked and lived for eight years, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush promised to keep attention on Haiti’s reconstruction long after media attention moves on.
“We’re a safe haven,” Mr. Bush said of their fund-raising effort, warning Americans to beware of scams and brushing aside the irony of the fact that the man politically scarred by the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina was returning to the spotlight to help deal with a natural disaster. “People love to point fingers.”
For his part, Mr. Clinton said the goal of the longer-term effort had to be to help Haiti escape its legacy of poverty and corruption. “I won’t feel successful if all we do is get them back to where they were the day before the earthquake.”
While Haiti dominated the day, there were reminders of the new political climate at home. One year after Washington prepared for the Obama inaugural, the talk in Washington was of Republican momentum in the Massachusetts special Senate election – and of what message the race would send to frame the early midterm year mindset.
President Obama campaigned with fellow Democrat Martha Coakley in Boston Sunday.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) - President Barack Obama tried to rally voters behind the Democratic candidate Sunday in a surprisingly close Senate race in Massachusetts, a contest that could imperil his plans to overhaul the U.S. health care system.
Obama flew to Boston to stump for Martha Coakley, who is trying to fend off a strong campaign by Republican state Sen. Scott Brown to keep the seat held for decades by liberal lion Ted Kennedy in Democratic hands.
"We know that on many of the major questions of our day, a lot of these measures are going to rest on one vote in the United States Senate," Obama said. "That's why the opponents of change and progress have been pouring money and resources in the commonwealth in hopes of promoting gridlock and failure."
Brown has pledged to vote against Democratic efforts to expand health care, which Kennedy once called "the cause of my life." A GOP victory would give Senate Republicans the votes to stop the bill through a filibuster, a tactic they have employed routinely since Democrats won control of Congress in 2006.
Brown told supporters Sunday afternoon that electing him would be "a message that will be heard around the country."
Washington (CNN) - Multiple advisers to President Obama have privately told party officials that they believe Democrat Martha Coakley is going to lose Tuesday’s special election to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy for more than 40 years, several Democratic sources told CNN Sunday.
The sources added that the advisers are still hopeful that Obama's visit to Massachusetts on Sunday - coupled with a late push by Democratic activists - could help Coakley pull out a narrow victory in an increasingly tight race against Republican state Sen. Scott Brown.
However, the presidential advisers have grown increasingly pessimistic in the last three days about Coakley's chances after a series of missteps by the candidate, sources said.
But White House spokesman Bill Burton told CNN: "The President is in Massachusetts today because he believes Martha Coakley is the right person for the job and indeed will be the next senator from Massachusetts."
Updated: 5:18 p.m. with comment from Bill Burton
Washington (CNN) – Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush say they’re in no hurry to give President Obama any advice, notwithstanding all of the challenges and crises Obama’s administration has faced.
“I think once you’ve been president you shouldn’t gratuitously offer any advice to your successor,” said former President Clinton in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “If somebody asked you what you think, you tell them. Otherwise, you just show up when you’re asked to help,” Clinton also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
“It was good to walk back through here,” former President George W. Bush said of his first visit to the White House since President Obama was inaugurated nearly a year ago.
Sitting in a relaxed and comfortable manner after meeting with Clinton and Obama to discuss relief for Haiti, Bush told King, “I frankly don’t miss the limelight. I’m glad to help out, but there’s life after the presidency is what I’ve learned, and I’m going to live it to the fullest, and this is part of living it to the fullest, to help other people.”
Clinton also said that he thought the new administration had handled the situation in Haiti well.
(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton will travel to Haiti on Monday to meet with officials and deliver aid supplies to the quake-ravaged country, his foundation announced Sunday.
Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, will meet with Haitian President Rene Preval and other members of the local government as well as aid workers, to discuss how to proceed with recovery operations.
The visit comes two days after President Barack Obama announced the formation of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, a major fundraising effort for victims of Tuesday's earthquake led by Clinton and former President George W. Bush.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama says the health care bill he is pushing through Congress will be "a victory for dignity and decency for our common humanity."
"This will be a victory for the United States of America," Obama told a service at the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church on Sunday, a day before a national holiday honoring slain civil rights icon the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
King spoke at the same church in 1956, at a time of change and uncertainty in the United States following a court order that ended busing segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, Obama noted.
Comparing the challenges of that era to today, Obama acknowledged that he sometimes got frustrated at the slow pace of change since his inauguration a year earlier as the nation's first African-American president.
In a pre-recorded interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Bush and Clinton said the new fund created by President Barack Obama also seeks to ensure that money keeps coming in after the news media moves on from last week's devastating earthquake.
"For me, success is helping save lives in the short term, and then we can worry about the long-term after the situation has been stabilized," Bush said.
Clinton, who also is the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, defined success as "setting up a network quickly to get the food, water, medicine, security and information people need."
The overall goal is to help Haiti resume "as quickly as possible" its efforts to build a "strong, modern society" after decades of political and social instability that made it the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere before the earthquake, Clinton said.
Washington (CNN) – The public can rest assured that donations made to a new bipartisan fundraising effort for Haiti will be accounted for and properly spent, former President George W. Bush said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Bush joined his predecessor, former President Clinton, at the White House Saturday as President Obama announced that his two forerunners have agreed to join forces to lead what is hoped to be a massive private fundraising effort in support of quake-stricken Haiti.
“Here at home, Presidents Bush and Clinton will help the American people to do their part,” Obama said Saturday.
In a sit-down interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King taped soon after the White House announcement, Bush said the public needn’t worry about any money donated to the new Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
“One of the thing I am concerned about is that on these – during these crises, all kinds of fake charities spring up,” Bush told King, “that, you know, take advantage of people’s goodwill, and we’re a safe haven. We will make sure the money is accounted for and there’s transparency, and properly spent.”
The joint effort between Bush and Clinton is reminiscent of a similar effort by Clinton and 41st president George H.W. Bush to raise private funds and awareness after the massive Indian Ocean tsunami in 2005.