Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the recent death of Sen. Edward Kennedy will help the Democratic Party in its push for support of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Last week, Reid, D-Nev., promised that Congress would renew the debate over healthcare reform, which he called the cause of Kennedy's life.
"Ted Kennedy's dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize," Reid said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press. "The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."
In an interview Friday with Reno Gazette-Journal, Reid again said Kennedy’s death will help push through Obama's healthcare reform agenda.
“I think it's going to help us,” he said. “[Kennedy] hasn't been around [the Senate] for some time; we're going to have a new chairman of that committee.” Reid said he believes Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., has the best chance of taking over the committee chairmanship Kennedy held at the time of his death a little more than a week ago from brain cancer at the age of 77.
“Either [Dodd] or [U.S. Sen. Tom] Harkin, [D-Iowa], whichever one wants it can have it. I think [the death of Ted Kennedy] will be a help. He's an inspiration for us. That was the issue of his life and he didn't get it done.”
Reid, who is running for re-election next year, also addressed during the interview with The Gazette Journal his poor approval rating by saying he’s not worried. He said the rating is based only on a Las Vegas Review-Journal poll and that voters should look other places for more objective results, including a poll his own team conducted that he said differs “quite a bit.”
“The most recent poll that I've done…we do fine. Everyone in America today –– from Barack Obama, across the board –– have approval ratings that aren't as good as they used to be. These have been very difficult times. People are losing their homes. I understand why people are despondent and concerned about government, I accept that.”
Reid told The Gazette-Journal he thinks the recess has helped the Democratic Party’s efforts to get a health care reform bill passed.
“For one thing I think the American people have seen the wrongness of trying to interrupt meetings and yell and scream at people,” Reid explained. “That's lost a lot of its pizzazz. I think it has given time for members to contemplate what's important. We can talk to our constituents. I've traveled the state talking to people. I think they've been very constructive meetings.
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