A who’s who of America’s political powerhouses gathered to mourn the death of Senator and health care reformer Ted Kennedy Saturday.
One of those in attendance is also the heir apparent to Kennedy’s healthcare throne – Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
Dodd calls Kennedy his best friend in the 100-member Senate and was all but anointed to carry on the mantle of health care reform by the late Health committee chairman in a recent campaign ad
.“Today more than ever we have a real opportunity to bring real healthcare reform to Connecticut and all across America and I believe with Chris Dodd’s leadership our families will finally have accessible, affordable healthcare. I’m Chris Dodd and I approve this message.”
But political pundits Chris Matthews and George Stephanopoulos on MSNBC
and ABC News
aren’t so sure about the five-term Democrat’s prospects on getting re-elected—and question his ability to reach across the aisle.“Chris Dodd’s been in the Senate for many, many years now, he’s chairman of the Banking Committee. He’s losing really badly to a potential republican now. He’s down 33% in terms of approval from 49%. He’s down 50% to 34% in a match-up with a republican.” “Ted Kennedy’s best friend Chris Dodd loved by liberals but doesn’t have the kind of strong relationships on the republican side. So that void has really been felt over the last year and I don’t think it’s going to be filled.”
So what’s left Dodd in need of political life support?
Some say it’s natural for incumbents to face low polling numbers early in election cycles.FOX News
’ Greta Van Susteren points to another problem- money given on his watch to corporate execs at failing companies like AIG.“After initially denying it, the senator now admits he put a provision in the legislation allowing AIG executives to get at least $165 million in bonuses after the company received a bailout.”
Dodd made the rounds on the Sunday morning political shows to share his memories of Kennedy, but was careful to dodge questions about his healthcare and political goals, something he made clear in an interview on CNN
:“I don’t want to talk about that today, this is the time to talk about Teddy, remember him and his contribution and what we need to do to get back on track with the legislation. We’ll leave the politics for next year.”
The three decade Dodd-Kennedy partnership might not be over yet though... he says he would welcome Kennedy’s wife, Vicki, to take the vacant seat in the Senate and cast Kennedy’s final votes.
“I think she’d be great. I think Orrin’s right, she brings talent and ability to it and to fill that spot. And I think it’s something the people of Massachusetts would welcome, we could certainly use her in the Senate. But I leave it up to her.”
Do you think Dodd can carry Ted Kennedy’s healthcare torch?
Or will his political challenges get the better of him?