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Schwarzenegger: Martha Coakley shouldn't have tried to assume the Kennedy legacy

January 20, 2010 | 11:18 am

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Washington seeking more federal aid for California to help deal with state’s budget crisis, said today that Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley should not have tried to cloak herself in the legacy of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, the governor’s uncle by marriage.

In Tuesday's special election to fill the seat long held by Kennedy, Coakley lost to Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, a stunning outcome in the famously left-leaning state.

“Anyone else that tries to use that name and to step in and says, ‘And I’m going to protect the Kennedy legacy’  – that didn’t work,” Schwarzenegger said as he emerged from a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Because the people know that there’s only one that can really protect the Kennedy legacy and this was Teddy, or, you know, one from that family. But not someone from the outside.”

The governor also said that the voters wanted “a new page” and that “that guy, Senator-elect Brown, is the new page.”

In suggesting on the campaign trail that electing Brown would be going backward, President Obama “misinterpreted it, because it was going forward with that guy,” Schwarzenegger said.

The governor also said comments made by Obama that anyone can buy a pickup truck like the one Brown featured in his campaign ads “also didn’t help the campaign for the woman, because that is being out of touch.”

Schwarzenegger said the victory was good for Republicans. “They have won everything this year from governor’s races to senatorial races, and so this gives a good momentum and it gives you kind of a picture of where we are going to go,” he said.

But, he added, “if Teddy [were] around, he would have won without a contest, that’s No. 1, because people love him and he has defended ... the state so well.”

-- Michael Rothfeld in Washington

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