In his quest to succeed Edward Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, Rep. Michael Capuano is stressing his stature as a Washington insider. During an interview on the campaign trail this week, Capuano compared himself to Kennedy, while defending the value of Washington connections.
“What was Ted Kennedy? Was he not the ultimate insider in Washington, yet maintaining philosophical views, when necessary? ... I think that’s probably one of the best things that we share,” said Capuano.
The congressman makes no apologies for accepting campaign contributions from Washington-based political action committees. “I only get that from the media,” Capuano said in response to a question about the influence of special interests on elected officials.
Rival candidates Stephen Pagliuca and Alan Khazei are refusing PAC contributions. Capuano dismissed those moves as inconsequential. He said Pagliuca can do that because of his personal fortune, while suggesting that Khazei has unusual access to wealthy private donors.
“I live in a two family house in Somerville. Most of my friends are not multi-millionaires,” Capuano said in the interview, “I’ve never been good at raising money. I’m not going to be the best funded candidate here. If I don’t do this [accept PAC contributions], then no working class person can ever run for office. If that’s what you want, or anyone else wants, you just need to say it: 'No working class person need apply. We only want multi-millionaires in the Senate.'”
Capuano was on a tight schedule. He spoke after greeting people at a senior center in Saugus. Following the interview, he returned to Washington to take part in House debate on health care reform. Capuano said he usually is spending two days a week in Washington and the rest of his time in Massachusetts during the campaign.
Capuano favors the public option included in the health care bill before the House. Still, he said he has not decided yet whether to vote in favor of the bill, because he is still studying all of its provisions.
“The question is no longer philosophical. It’s specific: 'Do you favor this bill?' We’re trying to figure it out,” Capuano said.
Click "Listen Now" to hear Bob Oakes interview with Capuano.
This program aired on November 6, 2009.