January 17th, 2010
05:50 PM ET
5 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. valwayne

    The people of MA have the unique chance to send a message to end the corruption and incompetence, and make a difference on behalf of the entire nation. Trillions in corrupt spending and debt, the Louisiana purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, now the $60 billion payoff to the unions. And the incompetence of letting a known terrorist board a plane with a bomb only to tell us "They System Works"! We have trillion and trillion in debt piled up and 10% UNMPLOYMENT. Obama is fiddling while Rome burns. Please MA, send a message for us that they will have to hear!!!!!

    January 17, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. Lilarose in Bandon, OR

    It is beyond me why people in Massachusetts would want to curtail the administration's trying to get health care to Americans who don't have it.

    It that happens, I hope all the voters in MA who voted against health care struggle to get it for themselves. If they are working, they might lose their jobs, then what, folks?

    January 17, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. Indy

    Rewarding a Republican would be like forgiving Bernie Madoff and letting him out of jail and allowing him to run a business again. Why would anyone vote republican after nine years of doing America wrong.If Brown gets elected it will be for all the wrong reasons and that is truly a crime.To elect someone for the sole purpose of ruining helathcare for Americans is horrific.

    January 17, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. Kimberly

    Let the people of MA decide for themselves who they want to vote for. I can not believe Obama is trying to influence voters. It is his job to listen to the people not tell them how to vote. I am looking forward to November.

    January 17, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. lbb

    It is time for the elected officials to start listening to the public regarding not wanting this health care bill. If it means Coakley loses this race to get their attention–so be it!

    January 17, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. stevegee

    The Massachusetts Senate race represents what's great about the United States of America: we can vote you in, and we can vote you out.

    Brown, you're in. Coakley, you're not!

    As for all the other liberals, your Pink Slips are coming in November. So update your resumes because you'll all be out of a job!

    January 17, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. harold

    If the Republican wins in Mass.. then Wall street and the Health Inudstry will have one fellow to keep them all in the cash for a long time.. And the PUBLIC WILL CONTINUE ON WITHOUT HEALTH CARE.. OR WITHOUT ..bank regulations... Get set for another Wall Street made Recession..down the line just like in the 2007.. Panic...

    January 17, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. Former Republican

    Matalin projects "a sense of arrogance" as an aide to Dick Cheney. The irony.

    Brown unfortunately showed a certain hypocrisy by holding a zealous standard against others that he does not hold to himself. It is sadly the same nonsense that continues to hijack my former Republican Party.

    January 17, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. chris

    If coakley does win she will be so indebted to the machine she will not be able to sneeze without asking. Palin 2012

    January 17, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. GGGG

    I think that a Republican win in Mass on Tues and nationwide this fall would be great for the country and for President Obama. Most of the controversial policies were pushed by Pelosi and Reid. With them out of the way, President Obama and a Republican congress (or a balanced R & D congress) can implement more moderate policies that the people want and that actually help the economy, healthcare, energy independence and the environment. Frankly, like with President Clinton, President Obama's best chance to get accomplishments and get re-elected improve with a Republican congress.

    January 17, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. IS IT 2012 YET ??

    How could that be? After the Obama election – a huge national mistake – Matalin's husband James Carville said the Republicans were finished for a generation. Guess not.

    January 17, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  12. mark

    Vote for Brown, time for common sense in the senate!

    January 17, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  13. starflight

    A Rerpublican win will not stop the health care bill, because the final bill will only need 51 votes to pass. The Democrats are not going through the formal reconciliation process.

    January 17, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. jp,michigan

    Massachusetts race will be one of many, that will push the democrats off that wall on the Hill, just like Humpty Dumpty. Americans need to take back our government, of the people for the people. Some thing Mr. Obama has forgotten about. Majority of the people do not want his so called type of health-care reform, but they do want health-care reform. Our found father must be turning over in their graves at Obama style of government.

    January 17, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. perryrants

    this could be the moment. maybe the real change that obama brought was that no politician (or party) should get comfortable!

    January 17, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  16. Minnesota gal

    What is it with republicans trying to pretend they are one of the people. Sarah Palin rode a multi-million dollar jet plane to all her signing sites, got out of the plane and then RODE IN ON A BUS. Trying to pretend she was just a good old girl. Thompson rode around in a beat up truck to his campaign stops after arriving in a fancy car. Trying to pretend he was one of the good old boys. Now the butthole slimy nudeo guy is riding around in a truck pretending he is one of the people. With his five houses, one time share and four cars that sure ain't the looks of the beat up truck he rides around in trying to pretend he is one of the people.

    They are false and lying and why in the heck doesn't the public realize that. The freetards make fun of the cars the democrats drive if they are not energy savers but those beat up old trucks sure as heck are gas guzzlers. And polluters. But it makes the republicans look like a regular joe, so it is OK>

    January 17, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  17. A. Smith, Oregon

    The Republican party is a failed corrupt organization. The party of No ideas, No help and No way to helping Americans out of the utter economic abyss the utterly failed Republican Bush-Cheney administration pushed America into.

    The Republican party is sinking beneath the toxic waves of its own making with Big Pharma, Big Oil and the Mega Health Insurance Corporations. The Republican lawmakers sold themselves to these special interests and it has caught up to them.

    Vote in more Democratic Congress and Senators for a prosperous and peaceful future for all Americans.

    January 17, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  18. u2canfail

    Cokley, if she loses, lost because she is not a good politician. She did not do her job campaining. Just because your in Mass, running as a Dem for a Dem seat does not mean you get a free ride. Get off your duff please there are bigger problems coming. Her opponent Brown has been out there. And I am not talking about his centerfold spred.

    January 17, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  19. Mike

    I pray this happens.

    January 17, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  20. bobby

    As a Canadian observing your political process I cannot understand your thinking. You voted in for a second term a man who lied to go to war in Iraq and in the process completely destroyed your financial systems, brought your country close to bankruptcy over the 8 years he was in power. He completely destroyed your reputation in the world community. Agreed to torture etc etc.
    Then you have the sense to elect a man who has the ability to change things, who is intelligent and truly cares about the average American. What happens? You expect instant gratification and an instant turn around. You don't get it, so you possibly elect a Republican in Massachusetts and in the process lose health care..I cant believe it.

    January 17, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  21. starflight

    Mary Matalin's 'apocalyptic' comment is ridiculous. Yes, not having 60 votes could affect future votes on other initiatives. However, I would remind her that Republican presidents have been successful in getting legislation through Democratic-controlled Congresses (of course, the Democrats were willing to compromise while the Republicans aren't).

    Passage of the health care bill is now certain, and no amount of wishful thinking will change that fact.

    January 17, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  22. Bill

    Not really, they'll just go back to a few years ago with both sides bickering about nothing getting done. Rinse and Repeat.

    Maybe someday Americans will stop treating politics like a football game.

    January 17, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. bb

    Republican will go back to buying their seats and hope nobody is paying attention. To be honest nobody is paying this stuff any attention except the media whom rating supposedly depends on drama.

    January 17, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. Maven

    Ah, it's the old "even if we lose, we WIN!" gambit.

    January 17, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  25. Karen Carter

    Too sad,but Obama's socialist agenda will NOT change until the US voters put an obstruction in his way which is a republican-controlled congress.

    January 17, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
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