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. Limbaugh or Obama - Choose, Massachusetts

    Failure or Hope

    January 17, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  2. sue

    worst thing she said today was the defending of Limbaugh and his inhuman disgusting words about Haiti rescue...she doesn't have the guts to stand up to this blowhard racist hater...shame on her, and shame on John King for NOT confronting her about this harder.

    January 17, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  3. annie against biased news

    A Republican getting this close in the race is a big upset even if they don't win.

    January 17, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. TLS in AZ

    In a nation that wants everything NOW change can not come fast enough. One year later I can not believe our nation would rather go back to the previous 8 years of the same crap. I guess Obama didn't move fast enough.
    I for one want to keep the same healthcare system. The one where I have to pay my parents medical bills because I can't get them insured.
    Do I sound bitter? I hope so. Vote for God's sake!

    January 17, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  5. lynnej

    No it won't change the way politics taste. It will be same, but nothing will get done because the party of "NO" won't vote anything that will look like this President is doing something for the People.

    And it won't be President Obama's fault. It will be Congress' for holding the American People hostage in their little game of 'us against them.'

    The problem is that while both sides are playing that stupid game, people are hurting. And in the end, no one wins.

    It isn't about being a Republican or Democrat. It is about doing what's right for those who elected you guys and gals in.

    January 17, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  6. Donkey Party

    Never has one political party so blatantly and publicly displayed their contempt for the American people. I challenge any GOPPER / Conservative to explain to me what their party has done to help Americans. Name one thing, please, try to name one single thing, because the Right offers you nothing but more of the same that got us to where we are now. Stupid Americans don't deserve President Obama or Liberal Democrats. Go ahead and put all the losers back into power so they can speed up their plans for the destruction of America.

    January 17, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. joe

    The fact they got how close? Maybe she shouldn't count her votes before they're cast.

    January 17, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  8. rs

    Well, there are a number of ways to see this. Yes, a Republican win will mean Democrats can't pass healthcare reform with a filibuster-proof majority (and there is always the Republican "Nuclear" option to pass it with a simple majority). But the bigger question is: Do the Republicans really want to say: "We were there to protect the Insurance Industry over the NEEDS of American Citizens". Do they want that to be their last legacy? To protect the money-making ability of the wealthy OVER the health of the poor and middle class? This will only affirm that Republicans are for the wealthiest 1.3%, and not the rest of us.

    January 17, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. Rich

    The right-wing has done an outstanding job of painting Obama as a socialist, or at least, as a big spending liberal. Mitch McConell today said that he has taken over the banks, the auto industry (and basically everything else according to him) implying, of course, that this is part of a larger socialist inspired take over of the country. And yet, he has to know that this is not true and that if Obama had not bailed these large institutions out this country would have been in the Great Depression 2.0. But, it appears that they are winning the battle with the help of "news" hacks like Fox. I am concerned that if we do not get some Healthcare reform, there will be a lot more than 30 million uninsured in the next few years. Healthcare costs was a major part of what brought down GM, and it will do the same with others. Matlin is right, there is change coming, but we may be sorry if we return to the Republican approach of pushing major issues down the field.

    January 17, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. MJ

    I truly hope Massachusetts will end this complete take over in Washington. Someone, and I hope Brown, will put the cork on this downward spiral of America. Martha thought that just being a "democrat" assured her the seat. Make her realize that this is not a privilege, but a true responsibility of the people she serves. Please vote for Brown Massachusetts – only your state can stop madness.

    January 17, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  11. Independant

    Does it really matter who wins?

    Democrats have made it abundantly clear they will do what they want in spite of what the people really want?

    The Republicans don't have the ability to make even have their bills introduced on the floor.

    Washington is so screwed up. And that is the way the politicians (both parties) in Washington like it.

    January 17, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. Donald, Cameron, NC

    Mary Matalin needs to take her doomsday prediction and shut-up!
    Enough of her pandering to the Republican extremist and trying to rewrite history which SHE was a pivotal player in a a key advisor to Bush and Cheny that led up to the debacle in Iraqi.

    All news agencies need to quit reporting on her and other loud-mouths, particularly, the drug-induced tirades of Rush Limbaugh and the idotic utterances from Palin, Beck, and OReilly.

    Enough of this enough! Report the news not the headline grabbing attempts ot these fools!!

    January 17, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. Mountain Dude

    Why does the GOP stop everything from getting fixed after they broke it? Are they afraid Obama might be competent because it is so terribly obvious they are not? The GOP is so sick with lust for power they don’t care what happens to our country in the meanwhile.

    January 17, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. digger

    Hope Brown wins

    January 17, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |

    Yes Mary, could be the reason that the republicans are so close is that they are running on lies, distortion of the facts, cherry picking the agenda, fear tactics , dirty politics, and cheating. any one that worked for cheney has no room to talk about anything. i like james carvell. but i can not stand you.

    January 17, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. lifelong democrat

    Scott Brown will win in Massachussetts to represent PEOPLE'S SEAT in the US Senate. Anger of voters is real, that anger cannot be cajoled, cannot be contained. That anger is directed towards Obama and democratic controlled Congress and Senate. What's amazing about Massachussetts, democrats are abandoning their party and supporting Brown, even union members are supporting Brown. A day or two ago a union leader in Massachussetts stated 53% of their members are supporting Brown and will vote for Brown. There's a dynamic change here, it has nothing to do anymore with R (Republican) and D (Democrat) but has MORE to do with survival of USA, freedom and liberty which may sound alien to a lot of people. Patriotic citizens of Massachussetts will put their political affiliation in the corner and put their country at the helm.

    Between loyalty to ones party and country, COUNTRY ALWAYS WIN!

    January 17, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  17. lifelong democrat

    A warning to those in elected office, do NOT ABUSE THE POWER granted to you by your constituents; they'll take you down. You've seen two (VA and NJ) you'll see the third one soon.

    January 17, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  18. Madison Skidmore

    The biggest surprise to me is that the White House and Congress are surprised Brown has garnered so much support. WAKE UP! A majority of the American people to NOT want this corrupt health care bill passed. They want health care reformed, but not this way.

    I pray that the Massachusetts electorate stands up for their rights and votes overwhelmingly for Brown. The country needs another Boston Tea Party to fight the tyranny and arrogance of the far left that is taking the country off center.

    January 17, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  19. kk

    Mary Matalin, you want change so your Party of NO can go back to their old tricks and lies. The President is trying to clean up the mess that the Republicans made and they are using every trick in the book to stop him. I hope the Independents see through your smoke and mirrors.

    January 17, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  20. Tom in Delaware

    Best case scenario for the Dems at thia point is that Brown wins and Health Care starts all over with Bi-Partisan input.

    That way the borderline Dems who are going to get kicked out of office might be able to salvalge their carrers by blaming the Republicans for obstructing everything...blag, blah, blah.

    January 17, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  21. Cheeney Weeney

    Typical of the dumb American public to flip-flop all the time. Everybody "votes change" then changes their mind. Why? Because we are a wishy-washy, uninformed, uneducated citizenry that lives in the moment only to listen to the hype of the present, get swayed by it, meanwhile forgetting the past. That is why history repeats itself in this country on a fast cycle. Why swing back and forth between two parties? Why not choose a 3rd, or a 4th? Simply going back to the old one doesn't make a difference, it just perpetuates the stalemate of progress in this country.

    January 17, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  22. J

    True. Obama's agenda is practically over if he gets elected. Go Scott Brown!

    January 17, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  23. Mitch

    Um, a win is a win, a loss is a loss.

    January 17, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  24. Blake

    A close win for the Democrat would give Obama a chance to turn things around. A loss of the seat could lead to an Obama Presidency ending before it began which no one should be cheering on because the US can't afford inaction.

    It wouldn't matter if you think Republicans or Democrats are right on the issues, because the current obstructionist strategy of Repubs would be seen as the biggest political victory in a long time and they would continue to use it to ensure an Obama defeat in 2012. That means not only would Obama and Congress not get anything done for 3 years, but any policies Obama even tries would die and stay dead for years.

    That means all those apocalyptic/doom and gloom numbers, stats and studies on healthcare insurance, the economy and social security etc. would have even more time to fester and actually come true. Basically Obama failure=No legistlation=America falling off a cliff. I doubt people will realize this until it's too late.

    January 17, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  25. todd stevens

    Personally, I think she has a point. If a republican wins Kennedy's seat, or even makes a strong showing, it could be a harbinger of 2012

    January 17, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
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