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Did Vicki Kennedy see a Republican upset coming?

January 20, 2010 |  8:30 am

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy campaigns in 1994 with his wife Victoria Reggie Kennedy

She was often described as a woman of smart political instincts in a family with plenty of sharp political elbows.  

In 1994, when her husband, Ted Kennedy, was facing a difficult reelection bid against Republican Mitt Romney, Victoria Reggie Kennedy was instrumental, according to the New York Times, in devising some devastating ads that challenged Romney's claims that his record as a venture capitalist helped create jobs.

Last fall, after Kennedy lost his battle with brain cancer, many senior senators -- including Utah Republican Orrin Hatch -- urged her to serve as a caretaker senator until the Jan. 19 election. Vicki Kennedy declined.

Now, with Republican Scott Brown's upset victory over Democrat Martha Coakley, the question has to be asked: Did Vicki Kennedy sense voter discomfort with what consultant David Gergen called "the Kennedy seat"? Did she smell that independents had grown angry about the price tag on healthcare, which her husband called the cause of his lifetime?

There may be a hint in an interview she did recently. Asked this week about polls that showed Brown ahead of Coakley, Vicki Kennedy said, "There hasn't been a chance to have a full airing of the issues, to have the candidates really explain their positions as fully as you would in a normal campaign, and I think that is what is happening here."

Asked what her husband might make of the upheaval in Massachusetts politics, she said that if her husband were alive there would be no need for an election. "My heart is very heavy in that regard," she added.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo credit: Paula A. Scully / Associated Press

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