January 17th, 2010
05:50 PM ET
8 years ago

Matalin: GOP win in MA could 'change the way politics tastes'

Washington (CNN) – A prominent Republican strategist and one-time aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that a Republican win in an upcoming special election, or even a narrow Democratic victory, could shake the foundations of President Obama’s ambitious agenda.

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.

Democrats’ efforts to continue to try to pass health care reform legislation despite polls suggesting the public is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Democrats’ plans is evidence, Matalin said, of Democrats’ “sense of entitlement, sense of arrogance.”

The race in Massachusetts “is emblematic of everything people don’t like about the fundamental transformation agenda of this administration,” Matalin told King.

Asked about the prospect that Brown could win on Tuesday, Democratic strategist James Carville said “it could happen.”

“And if it does happen, the last place that I’d want to be is at the Wednesday morning staff meeting at the White House.”

Even though the political stakes are high, Carville, a longtime Clinton ally, said he thought it was sound strategy for the president to make a last minute pitch for Coakley at a Sunday afternoon campaign event. “You’ve got to send him up there,” Carville told King.

But, Carville had no illusions about the tough fight for Coakley in the final days of the race.

“I talked to people on the ground in Massachusetts this morning. I talked to people in the White House this morning. And, yes, it’s a very serious situation. I think more people think we’re going to lose than win but there’s some – there’s a slight bit of sense that maybe this thing could come together right at the end.”

Filed under: Extra • Martha Coakley • Massachusetts • Popular Posts • Scott Brown • Senate • State of the Union
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. ICARE - countdown to 2011

    It will just take us back to the stone age of the past 8 years. I will pray for victory and if it doesnt happen, the future is to be lost in the dinosaur age.

    January 17, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. ICARE - countdown to 2011


    Do you have to vote for a white elephant? Do you really want to stay in the stone age?

    DUMBOCRAT –> dumb enough to listen and change to be smarter
    REPUBLI CON –> too smart to listen to U..

    January 17, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. Mike

    Scott Brown may win and change the political dynamics in Washington, but until both sides stop the spending we are all still on a sinking ship.

    January 17, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. Raj A

    As an independent voter who supported Obama in 2008, I strongly support Scott Brown. My family and I who have voted for Dems over the past decade have decided we want to vote for the real "change." Scott Brown is the change we need!

    January 17, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Ms S Callahan

    Interesting, yet this is a good thing..it shows that our Forefathers were right in setting up the system they way they did. This should serve notice on all those attempting to change or add onto it.

    In essence, the election in this state is representive of the Nation putting on Sackcloth.......

    January 17, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. scott from MICH

    We already know the agenda for the GOP. No No No No No to any change. Then they will sit and say "look... He didn't DO anything while in office". They want to go back to the old stutus quo.

    January 17, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. Mr Joshua

    The people have had enough. Enough Democratic and Republican nonsense. We are taking our country back from the elites. It's that simple.

    January 17, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Hilary

    Obama, and his thick-as-thieves relationship with the bourgeoisie, Wall Street dictatorship, IS the reason we aren't "inspired" to make it out to the polls. How about the Democratic party offer the People a candidate who is actually a progressive, who would actually make the statement that Americans are entitled to food, shelter and medicine? Oh, wait. The Democrats would never do that because Wall Street wouldn't like it. Do they seriously expect us to get up off the couch so we can vote for a milquetoast corporate lackey like Martha Coakley? This country will descend into a barren capitalist wasteland. I'm done looking to the Democrats for representation.

    January 17, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. Jan

    The defeat will be felt by those citizens who don't have health care and want a better life.

    You are not defeating Obama. He has health care and always will.

    January 17, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. Dean in PA

    Yeah, just one more obstructive, negative Repugnican swearing to impede efforts to help hundreds of thousands of Americans receive healthcare coverage that is out of reach to them now. Gee, I wonder how HIS healthcare coverage is? Republicans disgust me thoroughly.

    January 17, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. wow

    Go Scott Brown!!!!!! 🙂

    January 17, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. sahara

    brown is going to win. american people are not stupid.we know theres nothing wrong with healthcare.obama has a secret agenda thats going to bankrupt this country and take it down to the gutter.

    January 17, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. Larry

    Sounds to me like the Republicans are very aware that they are going to loose in Mass. on Tuesday

    So this talk about getting "this close will change the agenda" is just the typical sore losers trying to suggest a win out of a loss

    Coakley wins by 18 percentage points

    Go Go Democrats, the only hope for this country !!!!!

    January 17, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Not Connected

    If Ms. Coakley doesnt win in MA, it has little to do with President Obama and everything to do with how well or poorly she ran her campaign. Ms. Matalin is attempting to damage the President by flawed inference.

    MA is SOLIDLY democratic and Ms. Coakley was not damaged by any democratic in-fighting ... she didn't have to face off against any Kennedy family members.

    Women of Massachusetts need to turn out for one of their own. If they can't elect a sitting attorney general, we'll have to question the political commitment of women as part of the general populous.

    The democrats have allowed the republicans to drag out the health care debate for far too long though. Americans are lazy people, we don't like to do the hard work associated with dissecting an issue like this. If health care reform is damaged is is because of mismanagement, not informed and principled oppposition.

    January 17, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. wbn

    The fact that the race is close at all is indicative of the change in heart many, many liberals have had about Obama's philosophy and policies.

    January 17, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. Jim

    I'm a long time Dem and even i have had enough of the DEMS..It would make me very happy to see Brown win..I'm just tired of the loose purse strings..This admin is spending more money than it has..To bad i can't do that,I could have a blast like BO...Jim.

    January 17, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. jpspec

    Ma is going to send the Obama administration a set of Hearing Aids. Apparently this administration has had a serious hearing problem.

    January 17, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Matalin said, of Democrats’ “sense of entitlement,"

    Dems were given that "sense of entitlement" in November of '08 when President Obama won 53% of the voters and McCain won 46% of the voters.

    January 17, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  19. idesign

    Is the State of Massachusetts “acting stupidly”, Mr. President?

    January 17, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. Nea

    It still want change my vote from a Democrat to a Republican, if the people in massachusetts only knew what they are fight ing against. We only tasted 1 year of Obams Presidency and we are already ready to give up but we had 8 years of the Bush Presidency and now look where we are. G.w. Bush had 4 years and was beginning to mess the country up and this President havent even had 1 year and some people already have tried to sum up his Presidency. And what so bad about it even after 4 years we still didnt get enough of G.W. Bush we re-elected him again and you think after 8years im going back.

    January 17, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Ms. Matalin, the American people have already had a "taste" of the GOP and how they treat the common man. They don't like it. And this "taste" gibberish is inside speak for get ready to screw the working man, yet again!

    If the last 8 years taught any of us anything, it's don't trust the party of big business, because all they give you is the business!

    January 17, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. Turnabout is Fair Play

    The only thing that will change is that we will once again get gridlock in Congress for everything and NOTHING will get done. That's all that will happen and it will be another frustrating time because of the arrogance of the Party of No. Screw the American people, let's do what we can to be as obstructionist as possible. Sick of ignorant, arrogant Repukes and their brainless followers.

    January 17, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Remember just a year ago on election night when Carville said that the Republican Party was dead for the next 40 year? Well he was only 39 years off! Obozo has done what nothing else could, united Americans in opposition to his leftist agenda. This will send fear into every Democrat who has to think about reelection in 9 months when they vote for Obamacare.

    January 17, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  24. JS007

    The reason most politicians are corrupt, cynical and self-serving is that the electorate is largely uneducated about the issues and driven instead by partisanship, prejudice and fear. The corporate media constantly looking for conflict and division because it makes a good story is not helping either.

    For voters to reward the GOP only a year after they brought the country down to its knees is nothing short of bewildering. Because Obama can't clean up the mess in only one year people get angry and vote for the very guys who made the mess? This kind of cr*p just emboldens the Republicans and corrupt Democrats to keep the failed status quo. Good work Massachusetts!

    January 17, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. Fitz in Texas

    It will be sweet when Scott Brown wins.....so so sweet!

    January 17, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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