BOSTON (CBS) – Why did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, with the assent of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, pick Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-4th District) to give the Democratic rebuttal to next Tuesday’s State of the Union Address by President Trump?

“I have no idea,” Kennedy tells WBZ. “They haven’t asked anything, they haven’t asked to see anything, these are gonna be my words.”

But it’s clear party leaders have had their eye on Kennedy since his floor speech last spring denouncing Trumpism during the Obamacare repeal debate caused a sensation among Democratic activists. “We see it in their tax plan, in their budget cuts, in immigration policy and now in health care, a worldview that scapegoats the struggling and the suffering, that sees fault in illness,” said Kennedy during an emotional address.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (WBZ-TV)

It’s not the Kennedy name at work here. Few of the younger voters the party covets these days know or care about all that ancient history. Instead, the hope is that a fresh face can make a case that appeals to a new generation.

“The values that underlie issues like health care, the economy, foreign policy, immigration – I think there’s values that link all of those, and that’s what I hope to be able to articulate,” he says. “I do believe that some of the decisions made and the methods of government enacted by this administration falls short on a number of different levels. The president and his administration have amassed a record over the past year that they’re going to tout, and I think there’s a pretty strong counter-narrative.”

And a nationally-televised turn like this surely won’t hurt Kennedy’s standing at home.

“Are you going to wear a Patriots tie?” we asked him.

“At least a pin, maybe a whole jersey, we’ll see, I don’t want to give away too much at this point,” he said.

But his enemies aren’t waiting for details. Earlier today a conservative PAC devoted to attacking Democrats issued a press release called Kennedy “the rich, boring Pelosi ally giving the Democratic State of the Union response.”


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