January 24th, 2010
05:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Losing Kennedy's seat a gift, Dem says


Washington (CNN) – Democrats’ stunning loss of the Senate seat held for more than 4 decades by a liberal icon is an early warning sign that the party should heed, a prominent Democratic strategist said Sunday.

National Democrats are reeling after Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat, lost to Scott Brown, a Republican state senator who was virtually unknown on the national stage until his upstart campaign began to gain momentum in recent weeks. Brown’s bid to finish out the remainder of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s final term gained traction in part because he campaigned on a pledge to be the 41st vote Senate Republicans need to block Democrats’ health care reform bill.

“John, we lost a very important seat, a very important vote,” Democratic strategist Donna Brazile told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“It’s a disappointment,” Brazile also told King. “It hurts like hell. I can’t tell you how much it hurts. But, it’s also a gift. If we learn the lessons to get back to the basics, to deliver for the American people the change we promised them in 2008.”

“Well, maybe we can find more under the tree,” Bill Bennett, the host of conservative talk show “Morning in America,” said in response to Brazile. “If that’s the gift, then we want to keep on giving,” the conservative commentator added.

Pointing to polling of Massachusetts voters conducted just after Tuesday’s special election, Bennett said “dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, antipathy toward federal government activism, and opposition to the Democrats’ health care proposals drove the upset election” of Brown.

Related: Voter anger helped GOP pull Senate upset, poll says

“Brown stressed a lot his unhappiness with the way the [Obama] administration was conducting the war on terror,” Bennett also pointed out Sunday.

“The people spoke. The people of blue-on-blue Massachusetts spoke and it could not have been clearer.” Bennet declared.

Brazile disagreed with Bennett’s assertion that the Massachusetts upset was a repudiation of fundamental aspects of the agenda President Obama and congressional Democrats have pursued in the last year.

“This is not a defeat that should cause Democrats to become demoralized or to begin to fail in their pledge to change the country. This is an opportunity,” Brazile said Sunday.


Filed under: Bill Bennett • Extra • Massachusetts • Popular Posts • Senate • State of the Union
soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. buckwheat

    When have the Democrats ever been back to the basics unless you define basics as taxing and spending to give to those who contribute nothing.

    January 24, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. annie against biased news

    It certainly is a gift to all of us who do NOT want to see the great USA destroyed as this administration is trying to do.

    January 24, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Aspen Professor

    Dem comment about loss in MA a gift - A wake up call for sure.

    It is time to end, not reinforce the appeasement of Republicans. The GOP has turned the lie, arrogance, off-shore nation building, hypocrisy and ignorace into a skill. It began with Bush – Cheney and has continued under the leadership of Limbaugh, Hannity, Palin, Rove, O'Reilly, and sundry other FOX Channel friends.

    It is time to dust off the FDR fireside chats, point out every lie told by Republicans at least once a month, and display a President with guts and creative ideas.

    Full speed ahead fellow Democrats!

    January 24, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. v. stjerneby

    President Obama is cocky, flippant,condescending and he postures
    and then he postures some more. As Bill Maher put it :"Stop acting like
    a movie star." Do something rather than talk, talk.

    January 24, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Tony in Maine

    Bennett is looking for four aces and a pile of chips...

    January 24, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. C Spurgeon

    Get rid of the commentators and then go after all incumbents in 2010. Neither party really offers anything...

    January 24, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Larry

    Hopefully they will finally realize that if they fail to fulfill the campaign promises of 2008 they will be voted out. Unfortunately the Democrat party worries more about pleasing the GOP than they do the voters who put them into office. If they want to try to please the opposition, go ahead. They'll find themselves with NO votes at all. Go all the way or don't go at all. Howard Dean has it right.

    January 24, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. magicwandcompany

    Just have to wait and see what happens.

    January 24, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. Bill Mitchell

    Yes, this would have been a gift if the POTUS was paying attention, but he's not. He is blinded by his Marxist ideology and simply cannot accept the fact that the America people have rejected what he holds so dear.

    Unlike Bill Clinton, who believed only what the polls told him to believe, Barack Obama is dedicated to his far-left roots at his very core. He believes that if he cannot transform America into his paradise of fairness and income redistribution, there is really no point in being POTUS at all. This is why he is willing to risk his very office by pursuing these goals.

    Unfortunately for his party, all hands will be lost as he steers his ship into the iceberg.

    As he and the Dem Leadership has said in recent days, they are NOT going to tack to the middle. Rather, they are going to tack left even harder and louder since we apparently didn't "hear" them the first time.

    As a Republican, words cannot express how grateful I am for this sheer stupidity.

    January 24, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. Jack Adams

    It Better hurt!! For a republican who voted for Obama, I am very disappointed with their performance. They had majority and yet they were ineffective. They had a golden opportunity to make the difference were not sure what to do. They lost a golden opportunity to make a difference for the millions of uninsured (healthcare) and the cost of healthcare. They did not live upto the promise they offered during the elections. I understand and agree that they inherited a mess, as a leader in my own company, sometimes I have been given a mess also, but I have to clean up the mess else I will lose my job... so there...
    Hopefully , atleast now bipartisianship will achieve some results rather than stalemate.

    January 24, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. drc

    First off, while MOST Americand can agree we need healthcare reform, the 2000 page senate/house bill is GARBAGE filled with bribes and deals made in back rooms...anything but transparent and even now has still not been read by Congress nor has it been explained how it REALLY will lower the cost of healthcare.

    Second, MA has universal healthcare....which from what I have read the cost of that has increased faster than the cost of private insurance. I have no way to verify one way or another but if that is true, then the Government garbage plan also has little chance to decrease costs.

    I have voted independent my entire life.....For me to think a Dem or Rep just because of their party has me in mind is laughable. Neither party truly cares about WE THE PEOPLE....so unless we have a 3rd party that is strong, we are left with voting with someone who we can ONLY HOPE gets it....if they don't VOTE THEM OUT NEXT TIME.

    Time to clean Congress....useless members of society that think they own their seat....If we do not do that, I have little hope for this country.

    GOD HELP US.

    January 24, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. liberal wingnut

    This is funny. The liberals think that being more liberal will help?

    January 24, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. Mr Joshua

    Do you think it hurts now? Just wait until November. Now for the Democrats, That is going to REALLY hurt. Get with the program, Let's solve the problems and put political party aside. Vote for what is right, Not what letter follows a name. Follow the Constitution, Do not let these politicians fool you. The Constitution is all we need.

    January 24, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. Trang

    Might as well. I lost my enthusiasm the moment President Obama backs away from the public option, saying it's not important, and he's not fighting for it. It's his agenda, and he doesn't fight for it ... does he thik we just all fall in line? And then the Senate health care bill, it was watered down so bad to get votes from other senators. I say have a strong bill out there, and let the senators vote so we know where they stand. They want the bill pass so bad that they make the bill horrible, so at this point, I prefer it not passed. Maybe that's what the people in Massachusetts are saying. The moment they step away from their principles and make back room deals, that's where they loses.

    That's not to say the Republicans are better. They are known as the Parto of No, useless, just complaining, offering nothing helpful.

    The people of Massachusetts want fresh blood. Obama is fresh blood and they were hoping he will change Washington. Washington has changed him. Scott Brown is fresh blood, and they are hoping he can change Washington. I just wonder whethere he will be swallowed by Washington and be another victim.

    January 24, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. Realist

    Polling after the election confirms Brazile's assertions. Large majorities want Brown to continue to work WITH the Democratic agenda (only 11% of BROWN voters want him to oppose or derail it). What they want is ACTION and not the dithering that Lieberman and Nelson were creating. Change the country or get out of the way.

    January 24, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. Tyrone

    This should be a wake-up call for all politicians: Ask the people you represent what they want instead of doing what you (or the sources fo your funding) want.

    January 24, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Jay

    She is correct. This loss is a gift to the Democrats if they learn the right lesson from it. I submit going further to the left is not what the voters want. They want a government that governs from the center and governs without the sleaziness displayed in the Health Care Reform bills & Cap & Trade bills. Be prepared to see many many more Democrats lose their seats come Nov.

    January 24, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Annie, Atlanta

    Hopefully it is a lesson that Dems will learn quickly, because we certainly aren't seeing the change we voted for. Of course I honestly don't see how voting in a Republican will make things better. I still remember what they did to my country. But that's just me.

    It's still status quo as far as Wall Street and Corporate America go. As long as the monied interests call the shots based on self-interest and greed alone, there is no place for the rest of us here. As long as these interests get to continue to gamble, keep their winnings, and look to us to cover their losses, we lose.

    It's the economy once again, stupid. And the current masters of our new Gilded Age have gamed the system so that they are the only winners, ever. That needs to change or the re-energized GOP will be the only ones showing up to vote, sadly. The rest of us will be considering other countries where the citizenry is treated with respect.

    January 24, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. Mirta

    Let's see how the Obama admin moves forward. Plain and simple, people are pissed that he pushed Obamacare down our throats with his deadlines and arrogance...he did this to his own party. Oh, how the mighty are starting to fall. He needs to stay in his office and do some work instead of flitting around like a celebrity. My guess is he is still too arrogant to turn things around prior to mid-term elections in November. I also have to wonder...what platform would he use to run for re-election? Change and Hope??? Ha ha ha!!!

    January 24, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. John in WV

    And if Brown gets to play basketball with Obama and the president wins, Bill Bennett, John McCain, and Mitch McConnell will sware up and down that Obama cheated or the referees belong to a labor union.

    January 24, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. An Independent

    I believe that the independents sent the same message to the Democrats that they sent to the Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 elections – we don't like extremists on either end of the spectrum. Sooner or later one of the parties will realize that pragmatism and solving problems for the mainstream of American society is the way to keep the most voters happy. If they don't, maybe a third, moderate party will come along and dominate elections. I'd love to see that.

    With majorities in the White House and both houses of Congress, the Democrats should have been able to easily pass moderate mainstream health care reform bill that solves many of the problems of the current system. Instead, they tried to go too far and now we've got nothing. Neither party is going to be effective until they stop catering to the extremes of their bases and listening to the mainstream moderate independent voters that hold the key to winning elections.

    I voted for mostly Democrats in the last election because the Republicans had gone way too far right. But now I'm not very happy with the Democrats either. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are problems. They need to be replaced with some Blue Dogs. STOP PLAYING POLITICS AND CATERING TO THE BASE AND FIX THE PROBLEMS WE HAVE!!!!

    January 24, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. indy

    Coakley lost in part on her own and in part because the hope and change that was the campaign of 2008 has been the presidency of more of the same but just different people being the "insiders". So much for change in my book. Lobbyists, still have a job. Unions lobbying the President behind closed doors instead of big oil. I don't belong to either group, so all I see is being stuck with the bill. Kick them all out is my motto for November!

    January 24, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Bob

    Primary Point: In the aggregate, the US citizenry is Center Right.
    We are not center left or left. Period. Take as many polls as you want and the message will come back the same.

    When Donna Brazile, commenting about the loss of the senate seat, said, “It’s a disappointment. It hurts like hell. I can’t tell you how much it hurts. But, it’s also a gift. If we learn the lessons to get back to the basics, to deliver for the American people the change we promised them in 2008.”

    Doesn't Ms Brazile get it. The change that was promised in 2008 is exactly what the President has been trying to deliver this past year. That change is too leftist for the American populace and has sparked this backlash. It is not just the economy. To the contrary, the "change" is only really wanted by about 25% of the electorate with another 15% borderline. At least 60% are repudiating this type of change.

    Losing the governorships of Virginia, New Jersey and now the single most recognizable Senate seat in the US should move the administration to move toward the middle and really partner with business instead of making them the enemy. Moderate republicans and independents that voted for the President really didn't know what "change" meant until the leftist agenda started to be acted upon. I count myself as one of these persons.

    In summary, the election has cost the President, the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader the ability to control their troops. It will be very difficult to get any bill through Congress that does not have bi-partisan support.

    January 24, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Get over yourself, Donna!

    As a member of the former Gore team, you're still trying to get even for his presidential loss. As LEADING Democrat Party instigator to have the superdelegates deprive Hillary Clinton of the nomination - YOU, Donna, have NO credibility at ANYTHING. You're nothing but a pitiful little weasel.

    January 24, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Gale

    Look out Brazile. You ain't seen nothing yet!!!

    January 24, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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