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. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    Sorry, if this loss in MA is a "referendum" against the Dem agenda then the NY23 win for a Dem in a con district, since the invention of the light bulb, was a "referendum" against the con agenda.

    Some seem to have forgotten that loss.

    1 million people out of 125 million voters in NOT a "referendum" on any agenda, unless the cable bobble-heads and their drama queens, along with the teabaggers call it a "referendum" for high drama.

    And ad revenues.

    January 24, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. Mike in WA

    People need to realize that it is not that people are changing the principles all the time but that different people may be coming out to vote then who voted in the last election. Until we have 100% turn out every election you can not make predictions based on the last election.

    January 24, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. jdquest

    As a person who has struggled with poor health and lack of proper healthcare for 20 plus years, it is a great disappointment to me that people are so cold hearted as to believe the Republican lies and discard the healtcare reform bill. People say we need to think more about it and not rush into it but we have had well over twenty years to consider this problem, thoughtfully. With big insurance companies against it, it will never get passed if we don't do it, now. Why can't people have the compassion for people in this country who are suffering. We are so quick to throw money at dishonest charities that crop up when there is an emergency like Haiti, but people want to thoughtfully consider for twenty years how to solve the tragedy people in our own country are suffering through. Once again I am reminded of the story of the emperor who was wearing no clothes. We need a wise child in the conservative community to see the naked truth..

    January 24, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. stevetall

    Yeah, it hurts. Especially since the Republicans have shown ZERO willingness to work together with the majority party to get something/anything accomplished.

    We spent 8 years letting Bush do all this crazy stuff that's biting us in the ass now (in a big way), but now that the Democrats are in power, we can't move forward as a country, a civilization, or a species.

    From my perspective, nobody in the Senate or the House is earning their pay or doing their jobs. Where I come from, that means FIRED and REPLACED.

    January 24, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. leesa

    Can someone deliver the truth? Republicans ALWAYS claim that Dems have not consulted or worked with them on a solution to the health care dilemma & proposed reforms. Democrats insist they have attempted multiple times to bring them to the table. Who is lying?

    January 24, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  6. independent

    Attack speculation. Attack short term trading. Attack volatility and how it prevents businesses from investing and hiring. Then, put in place a three tier cap gains tax: highest (35%) for short term, next (25%) the more than a year, and lowest (15%) for five years or longer. Incentivize long term investing and reduce market volatility.

    January 24, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  7. The Film Professor

    "The People" are fickle. If there are problems, they turn against whoever is in power, particularly when fueled by the money pumped into particular races by entrenched special interests. Political Ads can be manipulated to make any candidate into someone the public will hate and vote against.

    And the decision by the conservative Judicial Activists on the Supreme Court this week is only going to make that 100 times worse - now the corporations and special interests will be able to target anyone they oppose and get the uninformed to vote them out. Once again, politics has tainted the court and trumped 100 years of prior decisions.

    January 24, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. phoenix86

    It doesn't hurt as much as the pain Americans are going through as a result of the left fringe policies adopted by this incompetent administraiton.

    3 more years then Obama loses his job and America can begin its recovery.

    January 24, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. jon

    Put them against a wall and blast them-then do a re-vote and replace everyone with no politician in the races. If they ever ran before they cannot be elected. get real humans in the jobs. these guys are making me sick-and I liked Obama but he needs to go the worst-what a loser!

    January 24, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. andrew s. rostolder hillsdale nj

    the dems better stop acting like cry baby losers and step out and attack instead of always defending.....they had a 20 year rule in their pocket, then came the left, the middle and the right dems, all crying and whining and the prez was no different..... the repubs don't like you, they never will, get over it and lead the country....

    January 24, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. Kevin

    The Republican's are already making the same mistakes as before. They just don't get it. Brown was elected because independents were voting against Coakley. Not for Brown. I don't see Brown lasting long with his same old tired Republican line. "No to Health Care", "Lower taxes", etc. I hate paying taxes but the Republicans got us into this financial mess by cutting taxes while fighting two wars and borrowing the difference from the Chinese. We have no choice now to cut spending and raise taxes. Any politician who claims otherwise is lying to the American people. The wealthiest are going to have to do their part this time. They've had it way too good the past decade. Their party is over. A big part of getting our financial house in order is Health Care. Republican's had better see the light and make it their priority now. Otherwise we'll be making the decisions in a much more crisis environment in a few years and it will be much more painful. Governing is much more difficult than being an opposition party that just says "NO' to everything.

    January 24, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. change yes, but what kind

    Obama came into office not only as a vote against the republicans, but as someone who offered change...problem here is that most Americans had no idea what kind of change he would bring...and now that we see it, we don't like it.

    January 24, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  13. Will Work for Health Care

    The thing is Scott brown didn't win... Coakley lost. She got complacent
    and lazy and then, at the 11th hour, expected President Obama to pull
    her out.
    Besides, 97% of Mass voters had health care. Why would they give a bean about the others that don't have it in the country?
    Too little... to late, Coakley!

    January 24, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  14. Mountain Dude

    So if we are center right why do we have 59 Democrats and only 41 Republicans and a Democrat president? I think there is a lot more liberty in the USA than the right wing wants to admit. Repeating what you hear on FOX doesn’t make it the truth. Over 70% thought we needed healthcare reform and killing all reform, including pre-existing condition protection, may not be the victory the GOP is going to like having the credit for. We have no healthcare protection at all now the GOP has had their way.

    January 24, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  15. Robert

    We're just getting started. When we're done, the last you'll see of Hussein Obama is his tar and feathered kister riding a rail to Russia where he belongs.

    January 24, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  16. Independent voter and thinker

    I think Obama had the opportunity to do many things the first year and did not do it. Now his Agenda is at risk without enough votes. He was not able to deliver health care reform I don't see how we can trust he will do anyhting else. I believe Democrats are looking now to say and do something that will resonate but in the name of that they are looking desperate and too populist. I don't like that tone, we are a Capitalist society and what we need to do is find a balance that will allow everyone to prosper with hard work, dedication and education.
    I'm tired of poor people againts rich people slogan, if we want to succed as nation everyone needs everyone Corporations need people to work for them and consume her products and services and the working class need good jobs. If our country is in trouble we are all in the same boat.

    January 24, 2010 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. Harold Trainer, USAF RET

    The Democrats and Obama have not guts, so there is no glory. They did not stand up to the party of no and so they are getting what they deserve. We will not support them again unless there is substantial change. Increase in Afghanistan, still in Iraq, no health care bill, no investigation into the Iraq War or torture, Guantonomo still there, Wall St. still using bailout money to enrich themselves, Cairo speech is worthless, Nobel Peace Prize is worthless, we are droning and killing in Pakistan, we are radicalizing Muslims with our war machines. Bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan while we are being outflanked by Al Quaida. Osama is getting just what he wants and they are hurting us with thousands of cuts. Obama thinks he is too big for his britches and produces nothing of value. Add enrichment of insurance companies and big Pharma. Too close to military.

    January 24, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. jrzshor

    who's seat?

    is it now brown's seat?

    January 24, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Change? No results? Yes

    Americans are getting smarter. They do not want change shrouded in an eloquent teleprompter deliverd speech; they want leadership and results.

    Obama talked a good game during the campaign. Obama talked a good game in his first year as President.

    Americans are sick of the rhetoric – we want a new President that can actually do something.

    January 24, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  20. Jon Doh

    When will the Democrats stop running limp candidates who inevitably lose to slick, cultivated charmers, hand-picked by the RNC? Democrats just lost the Virginia Governorship in an identical matchup. The Democrats beat each other up in the primary, then select wishy-washy, non-photogenic candidates - and allow Republicans win with cute, unknown, right-wing extremists who sneak in to office pretending to be "average guy" populists. What a shame...

    Come on Dems, grow up. Support your Country and your Party!

    January 24, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. Johnny V

    What exactly is so great about unregulated, unrestrained capitalism? It screws over 99% of the populace, yet there are so many brainwashed people that have been conditioned to embrace it.

    January 24, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  22. B

    Too bad that we might lose healthcare legislation to "get the message"...

    Democrats are their own worst enemy !

    This country does not respect Mr. "Nice-guy". Obama needs to get a little bit upset – in tone.

    January 24, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. Texas Jack

    You got it all wrong Brazile. It's a message that America made a drastic mistake a year ago. Now it is wake up time in our nation as we take it back. No more of this change can we take. In fact all incumbents especially Democrats must go. Start America in 2010 carrying through until 2012. No more incumbents. They have been there long enough to be the same old gangster type that has been raping us blind.

    January 24, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  24. Betty

    get over it Dim o crats!!! the American people were determined to keep the Health care program from being rammed down our throats. It is sure that we need some kind of health care improvements, but, never, never will we accept something that is hidden from the public eye.
    I am not the only one who knows Obama has lied through his teeth, where is CSpan, where are so many promises Obama made during his campaign, sure we now know why he only wanted to be where is at now, he had NO INTENTIONS of attempting to follow thru with his big promises, once a liar, always a liar. Now it is time to prove Obama is not an American citizen....No I am not a big republican, but, I am smart enough to know that Obama has destroyed all honesty in America. Oh yes, I want to invite Obama to watch O'Reilly, Hannity and Beck, we know he is too big of a coward to show his face on that station--I am talking about FOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Betty

    January 24, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  25. Concerned Citizen

    can someone please tell me how Donna Brazile ever became a "prominent Democratic strategist"?

    January 24, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
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