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Is Kennedy's Seat Now Vulnerable?

Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy (R.I.) held a press conference today announcing that he would immediately seek treatment for an addiction to prescription pain medication following a car crash in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Patrick Kennedy
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) announced he will seek treatment for addiction to prescription drugs.

"I know that I need help," said a visibly shaken Kennedy at a 3 pm press conference in Washington, D.C. He will seek that help at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where, he said, he had sought treatment late last year for his dependency on pain medicine.

Although he did not take any questions after delivering his prepared remarks, Kennedy dismissed the idea that he might resign his 1st district seat. "I need to stay and fight," he said.

Kennedy's district, which takes in the state's eastern reaches, is reliably Democratic (Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry won it in 2004 with 62 percent) but Republicans have sought to challenge the controversial Democrat from time to time. Navy seal David Rogers (R) took on Kennedy in 2002 and 2004, raising and spending approximately $2 million on each race but never getting above 37 percent.

To date, no Republican candidate has stepped forward to take on Kennedy in November. Filing doesn't close in the state until June 29, however, and Kennedy's problems may entice an ambitious GOPer to jump in.

Kennedy, the son of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, has served in Congress since 1994 and served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2000 cycle. He was courted to challenge Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) this fall but quickly removed his name from consideration.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 5, 2006; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Quentin, I don't believe I was missing the point. My comment was in reference to Kennedy being a Congressman and his abilities. It is well documented that Bush was a drunk until age 40 and many who deal with substance abuse wonder what condition he actually is in, even now. As far as taking responsiblility goes... Bush has never taken any and still doesn't. Yes, he and Cheney received DWI tickets. WOW, Rove was also able to covered up this and other incidents of his background when he ran for Governor in Texas. I wonder how many times Bush and Cheney got away with driving drunk, before and after they received their tickets? It usually takes a while to get caught, even if you're a nobody. Do you actual believe that Bush has never received any special treatment??? Incidents from his past have been written about extensively where he has. All I was saying was that, these Republicans jumping up and down attacking Kennedy is hypocritical. Just look at the treatment Cheney received when he shot his friend in the face. Anyone else would have had to talk to the Sheriff immediately, not the next day....and no doubt would have had an alcohol test as well. The rich and the powerful always receive special treatment. As far as Laura "Welch" Bush's fatal mishap, who knows... I'm sure if it were anyone else's first Lady-To-Be, like Theresa Heinz Kerry, it would have made front page News when Bush was running for President. The Press has always been nice to Laura, but if you think that the Bush Dynasty has no skeletons in their closet and hasn't been given their share of're crazy! Case closed... As "Fair and Balance" suggested there are a lot more serious issues on the table right now and this one about Kennedy is just another side show and a distraction from what should be on our minds.

Posted by: Barbara | May 9, 2006 1:18 PM | Report abuse

JC - getting personal would be accusing Tron of being a "potato farmer from Portsmouth."

Or, outting Tron as a Yankees fan.

Posted by: RI Native in DC | May 8, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Wow--Y'all are getting WAY personal here!

Posted by: JC | May 8, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"Everyone in Kennedy's district (mine) knows he's an idiot. He's always been an idiot. He'll ALWAYS be an idiot.

"...-- hell, we egged his house every other weekend in high school 'because he's a Kennedy'"

Who's the idiot?

Posted by: RI Native in DC | May 8, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I think Kennedy's seat is as vulnerable as Bush's seat, quite frankly.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | May 8, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and let us know when the dexies have worn off, won't you?

BTW--Kennedy losing in his district? Keep dreaming, right-ards.

Posted by: vienna local | May 8, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

John "G" -- the right's answer to "che."

Posted by: vienna local | May 8, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Everyone in Kennedy's district (mine) knows he's an idiot. He's always been an idiot. He'll ALWAYS be an idiot.

But until someone better actually runs, he's going to keep winning. You don't win here by courting the "conservative base" like Rogers did last time. Kennedy probably fiddles around in his office all day eating cookies, but he's not going to do anything radical or weird (at work, at least -- after work, apparently he gets doped up on Ambien and drives around D.C.) and at this point, we'll take that as good enough. It's sad, but it's practical.

Most people here don't vote for him "because he's a Kennedy" -- hell, we egged his house every other weekend in high school "because he's a Kennedy" -- they vote for him because there are no other decent options.

Posted by: Tron | May 8, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

As I said before, this is a personal issue with Rep Kennedy and his constituents, but it is now providing distraction from FAR more serious issues on the political plate this week: New CIA Director / Goss/Cunningham Scandal and Rove's trouble with Plame Case.

Bush's nomination of a partisan military man to head the CIA, and the contentious confirmation hearings to follow, will (and should) further damage the chances of Republicans in November, not to mention expose Bush's intention to gut and cripple our most important intelligence agency). Bush and his PNAC cronies are clearly guilty of categorically reducing the capabilities and morale of the military and intel communities.

These November elections can't come soon enough, for the benefit of our National Security, and let's pray that we are not attacked again with these goons in power. We need a clean sweep of Congress and the Executive Branch.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | May 8, 2006 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Barbara H,

you are missing the key point. Bush has a CONVICTION for DUI. When a Kennedy does the same thing, he doesn't get tested for alcohol or charged. They just chauffeur him home.

Quentin Langley
Editor of

Posted by: Quentin Langley | May 8, 2006 4:18 AM | Report abuse

Simply correcting an earlier error - it was Rita Cosby on MSNBC, not Nancy Grace.

By the way PATRICK, you are a Congressman, not a SENATOR.

Shhh!! We're not supposed to know anything about the Laura Welch incident in 1963. Michael Douglas was a fatality but there were no tests performed to determine if alcohol was invloved. I guess that was okay then, but not now?

Posted by: RI Native in DC | May 8, 2006 12:01 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: TED NENNEDY | May 7, 2006 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Laura Bush who killed a fellow High School student and nothing ever happened to her either

Posted by: roflol | May 7, 2006 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Let me amend my comment by saying that it is an "early" comment about a primary challenge that I am referring to not a "previous" comment. The comment expressed towards the beginning of the comment field posted by "RTN08" is the previous comment that I am referring to.

Posted by: Charles | May 7, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

The previous comment about Rep. Kennedy being challenged in a primary is a terrible idea and clearly shows an individual who enjoys bloviating. Rhode Island is not the state where an incident like this will bring down a Democrat, especially one who is strong in constituent relations, has the name "Kennedy" and has demonstrated leadership skills on the level of being a pragmatic challenger to the fairly moderate Sen. Chafee. Also, please remember that we are a forgiving nation. By Rep. Kennedy recognizing his problem, admitting that he messed up again and taking responsibility by cooperating with the investigation and seeking treatment he is show that he is part of the American fabric; an imperfect individual who loves this country. Please educate yourself before making quick judgements about this situation.

Posted by: Charles | May 7, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

John "G" You're PIGHEADED and you are in need of professional help....I think you "doth protest too much." Yeah, the victim's fault....Your silly rant...It just makes me're not worth anymore of my time.

Posted by: Barbara | May 7, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey John "G"........ you need professional help.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | May 7, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey Stupid Barbara you prove my point these things happened when they were kids what about Patrick Kennedy & Ted evenat his age involved with rapes in Florida. What about Cheney all the witnesses said it was the victims fault and case closed furthermore; this is why you Barbara are a stupid democrat voter! We republican voters will note vote for our congressman if they don't do the job that we sent them to Washington to do such as lower taxes, border control and win the war on terror.

This is the difference between republican voters and democrats you idiots will keep voting for the Mayor Barry's and Nagins, the corrupt impeached Bill and cattle futures Hillary, the elitist Kennedys who don't give a damn about you idiot democrat voters and all of your corrupt congressman in the democrat party.

We republican voters will vote our party out to send them a message we will not put up with this garbage just look at Herndon voters last week. When was the last time a democrat came forward with a new policy plan for moving this country forward, Barbara? They bash republicans every which is fine with me however; what's their solution for Iraq, Cut & Run? The economy, higher taxes? Illegal Immigration, open borders? legal gay marriages? no religion? stand with the terrorists? this is your pitiful party and you Barbara are an idiot democrat voter, wake up!!!!!

AP Poll: Conservatives Upset With Bush

Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to dismal new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre.

Six months out, the intensity of opposition to Bush and Congress has risen sharply, along with the percentage of Americans who believe the nation is on the wrong track.

The AP-Ipsos poll also suggests that Democratic voters are far more motivated than Republicans. Elections in the middle of a president's term traditionally favor the party whose core supporters are the most energized.

This week's survey of 1,000 adults, including 865 registered voters, found:

Story Continues Below

Just 33 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, the lowest of his presidency. That compares with 36 percent approval in early April. Forty-five percent of self-described conservatives now disapprove of the president.

Just one-fourth of the public approves of the job Congress is doing, a new low in AP-Ipsos polling and down 5 percentage points since last month. A whopping 65 percent of conservatives disapprove of Congress.

A majority of Americans say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress (51 percent to 34 percent). That's the largest gap recorded by AP-Ipsos since Bush took office. Even 31 percent of conservatives want Republicans out of power.

The souring of the nation's mood has accelerated the past three months, with the percentage of people describing the nation on the wrong track rising 12 points to a new high of 73 percent. Six of 10 conservatives say America is headed in the wrong direction.
Republican strategists said the party stands to lose control of Congress unless the environment changes unexpectedly.

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"It's going to take some events of significance to turn this around," GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. "I don't think at this point you can talk your way back from those sorts of ratings."
He said the party needs concrete progress in Iraq and action in Congress on immigration, lobbying reform and tax cuts.

"Those things would give the country a sense that Washington has heard the people and is responding in a way that will give conservatives a sense that their concerns are being addressed," Ayres said.

Conservative voters blame the White House and Congress for runaway government spending, illegal immigration and lack of action on social issues such as a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage. Those concerns come on top of public worries about Iraq, the economy and gasoline prices.

Candice Strong, a conservative from Cincinnati, said she backed Bush in 2004, "but I don't agree with the way he's handling the war and the way he's handling the economy. I think he should have pulled our troops out of Iraq."

Hardline conservatives are not likely to vote Democratic in the fall, but it would be just as devastating to the Republicans if conservatives lose their enthusiasm and stay home on Election Day.

AP-Ipsos polling suggests that Democrats may be winning the motivation game. Fewer voters today than in 2004 call themselves Republicans or Republican-leaning. In addition, 27 percent of registered voters were strong Republicans just before the 2004 election, while only 15 percent fit that description today.

Democratic numbers are the same or better since 2004.

"This tells us we've got our work cut out for us," said Sen. Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican from Kansas who may run for president in 2008. "The key for us is to show restraint on spending and on dealing with immigration."

Bush's strong suit continues to be his handling of foreign policy and terrorism, an area in which he modestly improved his ratings since April. Still, a majority of Americans disapprove of his performance on both fronts.

It gets worse. Only 23 percent of the public approve of the way the president is handling gasoline prices, the lowest in AP-Ipsos polling. Those who strongly disapprove outnumber those who strongly approve by an extraordinary 55 percent to 8 percent.

As for his overall job performance, history suggests that Bush's paltry 33 percent spells trouble for Republicans in the fall.

In the past six decades, only one president had a lower job approval rating six months before a midterm election _ Richard Nixon in May 1974, the year in which Watergate-scarred Republicans lost 48 seats in the House and four in the Senate.

By November, Nixon was out of a job too, having resigned the presidency in August.

Nearly half of the public strongly disapproves of Bush, a huge jump from his 5 percent strong disapproval rating in 2002. The poll has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Of all Republicans, nearly 30 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing, including 13 percent who feel strongly about it.

"Hopefully this is a wakeup call for my party to get out of its bunker and hunker mentality," said Republican strategist Greg Mueller, whose firm specializes in conservative politics.

He urged his party to start criticizing Democratic positions on the Iraq war, immigration and the economy.

"We've been like a punching bag," Mueller said.

Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the House and six in the Senate for control of Congress, no easy task in an era that favors incumbents.

"What we have to do is earn the public approval of our right to govern again," said Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean.

The Democratic strategy is to nationalize the elections around a throw-the-bums-out theme.

Republicans counter that they will do better than polls suggest when voters are forced on Election Day to choose between candidates in their particular House and Senate races.

"But," Ayres said, "we better get in gear."

Posted by: John "G" | May 7, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

There was also that small incident that happened just last February WHERE THE VICE PRESIDENT SHOT HIS FELLOW HUNTER IN THE FACE AND THE SHERIFF WASN'T ABLE TO QUESTION HIM UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING....NO ALCOHOL TESTING DONE THERE EITHER!!!! How quickly Republicans' opinions change.

Posted by: Barbara | May 7, 2006 3:35 AM | Report abuse

Let's talk about the DWI's that both Cheny and Bush received....not to mention Laura Bush who killed a fellow High School student and nothing ever happened to her either. You, Republicans are soooooooooo hypocritical.

Posted by: Barbara "H" | May 7, 2006 3:18 AM | Report abuse

Let's talk about the DWI's that both Cheny and Bush received....not to mention Laura Bush who killed a fellow High School student and nothing ever happened to her either. You, Republicans are soooooooooo hypocritical.

Posted by: Barbara | May 7, 2006 3:15 AM | Report abuse

You Democrats have to be the most uninformed and stupidest voters on this earth. You'll keep voting for Chappaquiddick Teddy and his son who wrecks the car every other week and gets away with it yet these elitist Kennedys have different opinions and laws when it comes to where they live or what they do. They don't give a damn about you idiots that keep voting for them, wake up!!!!

White House Bashes Kennedy Wind Farm Veto

The Bush administration and two influential senators weighed in Friday against a provision that would block a 130-turbine wind farm off Cape Cod, where some of Washington's most powerful have vacation retreats. The wind farm, which would be located in Nantucket Sound about six miles off shore, has been a focus of controversy for five years. Developers won favorable environmental reviews and hoped to have it completed in 2009. A provision tucked into a bill authorizing activities for the U.S. Coast Guard would give Massachusetts's governor a veto over the project, although the turbines would be located in federal waters. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney opposes the project. Energy Undersecretary David Garman on Friday called the provision "unwise" at a time when President Bush and many members of Congress are trying to spur the development of wind turbines as an alternative for generating electricity. The Republican chairman and the ranking Democrat of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee vowed to block the Coast Guard bill unless the provision is removed. Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said that interfering in the project in this way and at this late date would have a chilling effect on investments in renewable energy and conflicts with the need to develop alternative energy sources. "It sets a terrible precedent" to allow governors to veto such projects, Domenici said. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, added the provision during negotiations with the Ho a final version of the Coast Guard bill. Stevens consulted with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., whose family retreat is eight miles from the proposed wind farm. Kennedy and other members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation oppose the project, but he has denied that personal considerations are involved. Aaron Saunders, a spokesman for Stevens, said the Alaska senator viewed it as a matter of state's rights. "He and Sen. Kennedy spoke about the issue. Sen. Kennedy expressed his opinions on them and Sen. Stevens agreed." "If this were a project off the coast of Alaska, he (Stevens) believes the citizens of Alaska should have a say on where that project should be located," Saunders said. Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said the company has spent $23 million so far, mostly on environmental reviews and permitting. The turbines would stand 426 feet in shallow waters off an area of Nantucket Sound known as Horseshoe Shoal. Opponents argue that the turbines would be an eyesore and could threaten water navigation. "A lot of people think the turbines are beautiful and elegant," said Rodgers. He said they would be six miles from the closest shore "and at that distance they would be (viewed as) a half an inch above the horizon." Cape Wind estimates that the wind turbines would be able to supply three-fourths of the electricity used on Cape Cod and on the nearby islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The Northeast region "has a demonstrated need for new sources of electricity to assure reliability of service and affordable electricity for the region's consumers, and this project will generate clean energy to help meet that need," Garman wrote in expressing the administration's support for the wind farm.

The infamous environmental group Greenpeace has also entered the fray, targeting Kennedy for his opposition.

Greenpeace is launching a nationwide TV ad campaign against Kennedy, with spots that portray the Massachusetts Democrat as Godzilla.

The Cape Cod Times reports:

"In the 30-second spot, a cartoon Kennedy looms over the water like a Japanese movie monster, pounding wind turbines as they sprout from the water, and barks, 'I might see them from my mansion on the Cape.'"
Kennedy's nephew, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is a leading environmentalist who urges Americans to cut back on energy consumption and who blamed Bush environmental policies for Hurricane Katrina.

But he, too, opposes the wind farm in Nantucket Sound - going so far as to argue that it would cause pollution.

By running the ads, Greenpeace hopes to torpedo an amendment to a Coast Guard bill that would make a proposed Nantucket wind farm vulnerable to state veto.

"'We've targeted the Senate because we need leaders to stop this amendment before it can even be voted," Greenpeace spokesgal Kate Smolski told the Times.

Posted by: John "G" | May 6, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Say what you want about the pills - Patrick Kennedy is an idiot and an embarrassment to his state, his party, and the House of Representatives.

Posted by: anon | May 6, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Kennedy will win, hands down.

Posted by: Q | May 6, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to correct something that has been bothering me.

"Navy seal David Rogers..."

It is not Navy "seal" but Navy "SEAL." SEAL stand for Sea Air and Land. Please get it right.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

compassion and responsible


Posted by: loveaffair | May 6, 2006 10:47 AM | Report abuse

compassion for all,

leadership with resposibility.

Posted by: loveaffair | May 6, 2006 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Ginny and Others,

I would point you to the article by the WasPost on how tame Mr. Kennedy is and how his personal problem does show a general lack of personal ethics. He does not help the Democratic Party attempt at regaining control of congress.

Posted by: Iowa Dem. | May 6, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Ginny for try to stop the Kennedy bashing.

Posted by: Alex | May 6, 2006 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I am not a fan of Ted Kennedy or his son, but I think everyone needs to think about what the Congressman is going through and give him some time to deal with what happened. Where has the compassion for other human beings gone? Addiction is a terrible problem in this country, and we should be looking for ways to help those addicted rather than ridiculing them and their families.

Posted by: Ginny | May 6, 2006 8:47 AM | Report abuse

i'll challenge.

Posted by: loveaffair | May 6, 2006 8:34 AM | Report abuse

John G.

I initially was offended by Roberts's comments on what it would take for him not to vote for Kennedy. Then your posts arrived...spare us next time.

I think what happen with Kennedy is a tragedy but it also points to the elitism in our country and a serious lack of ethics. We love him for what he gets us for not for his character and people who were loyal to Jesse Helms and Delay were also loyal to them for what they got out of them not for their character. I think it's a sad commentary on our political system.

Posted by: Iowa Dem. | May 6, 2006 8:15 AM | Report abuse

what do you expect? Both his parents are substance abusing whores. Please, it's genetic.

Posted by: DC | May 5, 2006 07:02 PM


You don't seem to have accomplished much so far in your life,

since you refuse,

like a coward,

to reveal your name.

Could it be that you too are the prodigy of substance abusing whores???

Or perhaps just cowards????

Or perhaps both?????

Just asking...

Posted by: KEVIN SCHMIDT, STERLING VA | May 5, 2006 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Hey Moron Liberals Lets Walk Down Memory Lane And Remember How The Liberal Media Covered Up The Drunk Ted Kennedey Getting Away With Murdering Mary Jo Kopickney Back In The 60's. Culture Of Corruption? Don't Make Me Laugh!!!!

- In his statement to police, Ted Kennedy claimed that after escaping from his submerged automobile, he "repeatedly dove down to the car in an attempt to see if the passenger was still in the car."

- At the inquest, the Senator elaborated on his story. "I was fully aware that I was doing everything that I possibly could to get the girl out of the car. And that my head was throbbing and my neck was aching and I was breathless, and at the time, hopelessly exhausted." When he abandoned his rescue attempt, he let himself float to shore. "And I sort of crawled and staggered up some place and was very exhausted and spent on the grass." He said he rested there on the banking for 15 to 20 minutes.

Beginning with his first statement to police ( view statement ) Kennedy has always maintained that he delayed reporting the accident to authorities because he was "confused and in shock" after the accident. The Senator's statements regarding his rescue attempts suggest that in fact he was quite aware that Miss Kopechne's life was in peril and that immediate action was in order.

1:00 AM
- Kennedy testified that after he regained his breath, "I started walking, trotting, jogging, stumbling as fast as I possibly could. It was extremely dark," he said, and "I never saw a cottage with a light on." Kennedy said he walked back to the Lawrence Cottage in "approximately 15 minutes."


- Kennedy's claims were contradicted by several residents of Dike Road:

- Sylvia Malm was spending the summer in the "Dike House" with her family. The house was only 150 yards from the scene of the accident ( see photo below ). Her daughter had been reading under an open window facing the bridge until about 11:45 PM, but did not recall hearing anything unusual.

- When the family went to bed, Mrs. Malm had left a light burning all night at the back door of the house. The light was visible from Dike Bridge. Sometime after midnight, Mrs. Malm heard a car "going faster than usual" on Dike Road, but nothing.
The Reverend and Mrs. David Smith lived in the house across the street. They were certain that they had left a light on in one of the bedrooms that was also visible from the road.

Inquest Exhibit #8 - The view of Dike Road from the bridge.
*Note: Dike House in background

- Both the Malms and the Smiths were mystified that Senator Kennedy had not sought their help after the accident, especially considering the proximity of their houses to Poucha Pond.

See Diagram #3
for location of
-State Police Detectives George Killen and Bernie Flynn were assigned by the district attorney's office to investigate the accident. When they re-traced Kennedy's walk from the bridge to the cottage, Flynn observed that "Dike House was so close to the bridge, there's no way you could go down that road and not see that house. It stuck out like a sore thumb." Diagonally across the street was the Smith house, which they noted was also clearly visible from the road.

- They counted two more houses that Kennedy passed by on his way to the cottage, the last being the house of Fire Captain Foster Silva, who had also left a light burning the night of the accident. Apparently, Kennedy had walked past four houses, all of which were occupied the night of the accident, and at least three of which had left lights on, yet he had made no attempt to summon help.

- Only 150 yards beyond the Lawrence cottage was the Chappaquiddick Volunteer Fire Station. Visible from the Lawrence cottage, a red light burned over the unlocked door, and a switch inside tripped a roof-mounted siren. Had the alarm been sounded, "I would have been there in three minutes", Silva said, "and my volunteers and half the people on the island would have shown up within 15 minutes".

- In all, it took Flynn and Killen 23 minutes to walk the 1.2 miles from the bridge to the cottage. Based on this figure, Kennedy would have arrived at the cottage around 1:20 AM.

- Detective Bernie Flynn eventually put together a scenario for the accident :

"I figure,we've got a drunk driver, Ted Kennedy. He's with this girl, and he has it in his mind to go down to the beach and make love to her. He's probably driving too fast and he misses the curve and goes into Cemetery Road. He's backing up when he sees this guy in uniform coming toward him. That's panic for the average driver who's been drinking; but here's a United States Senator about to get tagged for driving under. He doesn't want to get caught with a girl in his car, on a deserted road late at night, with no license and driving drunk on top of it. In his mind, the most important thing is to get away from the situation.

- He doesn't wait around. He takes off down the road. He's probably looking in the rear-view mirror to see if the cop is following him. He doesn't even see the f---ing bridge and bingo! He goes off. He gets out of the car; she doesn't. The poor son of a bitch doesn't know what to do. He's thinking: "I want to get back to my house, to my friends" - which is a common reaction.

- There are houses on Dike Road he could have gone to report the accident, but he doesn't want to. Because it's the same situation he was trying to get away from at the corner - which turned out to be minor compared to what happened later. Now there's been an accident; and the girl's probably dead. All the more reason not to go banging on somebody's door in the middle of the night and admit what he was doing. He doesn't want to reveal himself."

"And the funny part about it was, 'Huck' was only trying to give his directions."


- Richard McLaughlin, the Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles, had won praise for his tough stance on drunk driving. He had recommended lowering the legal limits for blood alcohol levels, and mandatory jail sentences for those found guilty of drunk driving.

- Although McLaughlin would later actively participate in the "fixing" of the Senator's expired driver's license, his private opinion of the Kennedy accident was severe. Leaving the scene of an accident and delaying a report for more than nine hours, for all practical purposes foreclosed a drunk driving charge. "It effectively deprives officers of evidence of chemical testing and direct observation of the operator," he said. "So if you wanted to avoid a drunk driving charge after an accident - that's how you do it."


Timeline Continued

[ HOME ][ INDEX ][ INTRO ][ Chapter 1 ][ Chapter 2 ][ Chapter 4 ][ Chapter 5 ][ Chapter 6 ][ Epilogue ][ EXHIBITS ]

Saturday July 19, 1969

1:20 AM
- When Kennedy arrived back at the cottage, he saw the white Valiant parked near the front door. The Senator testified that as he came up to the back of the vehicle, he saw Ray LaRosa. Kennedy made no mention of the accident to LaRosa, however, and instead told him to go get Joe Gargan and Paul Markham: the two lawyers.

- Kennedy climbed into the back seat of the car and waited. According to Gargan, when he and Markham came out, the Senator told them "There's been a terrible accident. The car's gone off the bridge down by the beach, and Mary Jo is in it."

*NOTE: Kennedy claimed in his police report that he had made a "wrong turn" onto an "unfamiliar" road, yet he described the accident scene to Gargan as "the bridge down by the beach". ( Where they had both been little more than 12 hours earlier. )

- Gargan recalled that Kennedy "didn't bark out any orders or anything. He made it clear that he had been driving the car; and that Mary Jo was with him. That's all I needed to know." The three men drove back to the Dike Bridge without telling anyone where they were going or why.

- The Senator later testified that "I believe that I looked at the Valiant's clock and believe that it was 12:20 AM", contriving to establish the time of the accident. ( When it was discovered by The Boston Globe in 1974 that the Valiant rented for the regatta weekend had no clock, Kennedy admitted, "I made a mistake about a clock being in the Valiant that wasn't there." Caught in the lie, he sought to correct his answer retroactively. "I am also aware that Paul Markham had a watch on and that I did determine the time." )

- In fact, Kennedy's encounter with Ray LaRosa back at the cottage establishes a time that is in direct conflict with the Senator's story, and supports 'Huck" Look's belief that he saw Kennedy's car on Dike Road.

1) - There is no dispute that 'Huck' Look worked in Edgartown until 12:30 AM. It is reasonable to assume that it took him 10 minutes to get to Chappaquiddick, climb into his car, and drive to the Dike Road intersection. Look's testimony that it was at about 12:40 AM when he encountered the black sedan at the intersection is consistent with the facts.

2) - A short distance from the intersection, Look encountered two women and one man walking on Chappaquiddick Road in the direction of the Lawrence cottage. Ray LaRosa's testimony regarding this encounter is virtually identical to Look's, and therefore places LaRosa on Chappaquiddick Road at around 12:45 AM.

3) - It would have taken LaRosa and the girls at least 10 more minutes to walk the rest of the way to the cottage, arriving no sooner than 12:55 AM.

4) - After leaving the scene of the accident, Kennedy arrived at the cottage and immediately encountered LaRosa, who had already returned form his walk. The Senator therefore could not have arrived back at the cottage before 1:00 AM.

- In the timeline put forth by Ted Kennedy: the accident occurred at 11:15 PM, a rescue attempt was made, he rested for 20 minutes, and he returned to the cottage in 20 minutes. Since he could not have seen LaRosa before 1:00 AM, Kennedy's version of events leaves nearly one hour unaccounted for.

- Kennedy's actions upon reaching the cottage also raise serious questions about his motives and state of mind.

1) - The first person Kennedy saw when he reached the cottage was Ray LaRosa, but remarkably the Senator made no mention of the accident to him. As a former fireman, LaRosa was experienced in life-saving techniques; and because he had not been drinking at the party, he was clearly the most qualified to deal with the current emergency.

2) - Instead of alerting the first person he saw, Kennedy calmly asked LaRosa to go get Gargan and Markham while he waited outside. By hiding in the Valiant, the Senator eliminated the possibility that he would be noticed by any of the other party guests, a conscious and calculated effort to keep the accident a secret from everyone except his lawyers.

3) - Paul Markham, who injured his leg during the regatta, had been drinking heavily because of the pain. He could be of little assistance in a rescue attempt, but he was a lawyer.

4) - Kennedy would later use lawyer-client privilege to prevent Gargan and Markham from giving any information to authorities. For the next 8 hours, they would be the only people on the island who were even aware of the accident.

- Senator Kennedy's actions do not reflect a state of shock, but instead suggest a deliberate and calculated effort to cover up his involvement in the accident, while at the same time concealing the fate of Mary Jo Kopechne from those who could have saved her.


Timeline Continued

[ HOME ][ INDEX ][ INTRO ][ Chapter 1 ][ Chapter 2 ][ Chapter 4 ][ Chapter 5 ][ Chapter 6 ][ Epilogue ][ EXHIBITS ]

Saturday July 19, 1969

1:25 AM
- When the three men reached the bridge, Gargan recalled seeing the Senator's car upside-down in the middle of the pond. Kennedy guessed that it had been at least 45 minutes since the time of the accident. Gargan drove across the bridge and parked the Valiant on the beach side with the headlights shining over the water.

- Both Gargan and Markham stripped naked and dove into the water. "All I was interested in was saving the girl," Gargan said. "I wasn't thinking about anything else."

- A strong current was running through the narrow channel which made swimming difficult. The two men struggled against the current for some time, trying to find a way into the car. Gargan was eventually able to locate a door handle and yanked on it, but the door wouldn't budge. He moved around the car until he found an opening he presumed to be a window. He pushed his body into the car, but was unable to see in the dark water and could only "grope around to see if I could touch anything." Gargan began running out of breath, and in panic he pushed himself out fiercely, cutting his arms and chest as he exited the car.

- Ted Kennedy had observed the rescue attempts from the bridge, calling out, "Can you see her? Is she in there?" In the glow of the Valiant's headlights, Gargan saw the Senator stretched out on his back on the bridge. With his hands clasped behind his head, knees drawn up, Kennedy was looking into the sky, rocking back and forth, repeating, "Oh my God. What am I going to do? What am I going to do?"

- Markham and Gargan made several more attempts to open the doors, but fighting the current had taken it's toll. "The water was bad; it was rough," Gargan recalled. "I almost drowned." Exhausted and out of breath, they gave up.

1:40 AM
- Gargan and Markham climbed out of the water and onto the bridge.

" I just can't believe this happened," Kennedy said.
" Well, what the hell happened?" Gargan said.
" I was driving down the road, and before I knew it, I was on the bridge," Kennedy said. "The car went over the side. I thought for sure I was going to drown. And the next thing I know, I'd come to the top of the water." He said he had tried going back to the car to get Mary Jo out, but he couldn't do it. " I don't believe this could happen to me. I don't understand it. I don't know how it could happen."
" Well, it has happened," Markham said.
" What am I going to do?" Kennedy said. " What can I do?"
" There's nothing you can do," Markham said.
" OK...," Kennedy said, "Take me to Edgartown."

- Gargan recalled that as he got dressed, he "had one thing in mind at the time, and that was to report the accident. I didn't say that when I was dressing, but I was thinking what happened had to be reported immediately."

- The men got into the Valiant, and Gargan drove slowly toward the intersection. He recalled "There was a discussion about what to do now. We were all stunned; we were all horrified. We were discussing the situation, trying to decide what to do; trying to get the story together prior to reporting the accident."

- Gargan's intended destination was the ferry landing, "Because that was the location of safety; that's where we could get help to report this thing."
- In the back seat, Kennedy kept repeating, "Do you believe it, Joe? Do you believe it happened?"

- Three days before the Kennedy accident, The Boston Herald Traveler had run a story about a New Hampshire woman who had spent five hours in a submerged automobile. Amazed to find the driver unconscious but alive, police rushed the victim to a hospital where she was given respiration and treated for immersion. Doctors said an air bubble trapped inside the car had saved her life.

- John Farrar, the rescue diver who examined the Chappaquiddick accident scene, was convinced that Mary Jo Kopechne had not only survived the crash, but had also lived for some time by breathing a pocket of trapped air. Farrar did not believe that she had drowned, but instead had died by asphyxiation as the oxygen in the air she was breathing was used up and replaced with carbon dioxide. "She was alive, easily an hour, maybe two," he said.

In John Farrar's opinion, if the accident had occurred at 12:40 AM, Mary Jo Kopechne could have lived until 2:40 AM - an hour after Kennedy, Gargan, and Markham left the scene and headed for the ferry landing.

Posted by: John "G" | May 5, 2006 10:29 PM | Report abuse

I find it amusing how you stinking liberals get away with tagging Republicans with the culture of corruption when you have Cynthia McKinney assaulting a cop, Kennedy could have killed somebody like his dad did at Chappaquiddick and BJ Clinton who sold our military secrets to China and Iran. Thanks liberals for showing how weak your party really is and proving that there's a double standard for these arrogant elitists losers in your party!!!

Patrick Kennedy Crash Second in Three Weeks

Patrick Kennedy's Capitol Hill car crash in the early hours of Thursday morning was the second vehicular mishap suffered by the Rhode Island Democrat in three weeks.

Appearing on ABC Radio's Mark Levin Show last night, WRKO Boston radio host Howie Carr detailed the earlier accident, which went unnoted outside of the local press in Providence, Rhode Island.

"The accident wasn't reported in the newspapers until almost a week after it happened," Carr complained in his own Boston Herald column last week.

"The story ended up in the D section of the Providence Journal, under the East Bay Sports Bulletin Board and a big story headlined, 'Two arrested after Newport tagging spree,'" he said.

On April 15 Kennedy was on his way to the drug store, driving a Ford Crown Victoria on Turnpike Avenue in Portsmouth, R.I., when he made an abrupt left turn into the path of an oncoming Nissan.

"By Kennedy standards, it was a fender-bender," Carr noted.

According to the police report, there was no indication that Kennedy was driving under the influence, with his physical condition described as "appearing normal."

Kennedy's handwriting after the accident, however, didn't appear normal, Carr told Levin, explaining that in Rhode Island police require drivers to write their own accident statement.

"It looks like it was written by a chimpanzee, or a 2-year-old," Carr said, speculating that it could been caused by "medications" Kennedy was taking.

After the second crash, Kennedy relased a statement saying he was taking Ambien, a drug linked to disoriented behavior in press reports.

Posted by: John "G" | May 5, 2006 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Nick, your right, the Police did fail to do what should have been done. They failed to hold him to the same standards they would have you or I. But that is not uncommon, Law Enforcement typically cuts their own breaks in situations such as this and much, much worse. Hell, you need look no further than Fairfax County Police, their District Attorney refuses to charge Police even when they kill people. (I think he said it was legal because the officer was tired from deer hunting.) The Police in this situation are just as wrong as Congressmen Kennedy.
Even though I am an adament Republican I feel bad for the guy, both his parents set pathetic examples as people and parents. His father put the original "S" in the word scandal. So for him to have an addiction problem, I don't agree with it, but I think it's understandable.

P.S. Momma's don't let your babies grow up to be Optometrists in Fairfax County...

Posted by: J. Torre | May 5, 2006 10:11 PM | Report abuse

He doesn't remember getting up or getting in his car, yet he does remember thinking he had to go vote. Which is it? How convenient to have all the "uncommon" side affects of Ambien. I doubt sleep-driving is among them. This medicine makes one sleep, not drive cars! If it did, the drug company would be involved in some serious law suits. Not to worry - this story won't even be in the news by Monday. Mr. Kennedy will be re-elected and make his daddy, Robert, and the rest of his constituents proud.

Posted by: vidette | May 5, 2006 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's get real. You do not go to rehab for Ambein. This guy has a problem - its not a sleeping pill problem. Anyone else in this country would have been jailed. Someone blocked the police from doing their duty. Sounds like politics as usual. The press will look no further, this will be forgotten like everything else.

Posted by: Nick | May 5, 2006 8:14 PM | Report abuse

The postings here only prove how desperate we are to hate one another - unlike RUSH Kennedy admitted to his problem and is open and frank.

According to the police he was too disoriented to know what was going on - it is sad the supervisor chose to break the rules but that is not Kennedy's fault -

How are we as a nation going to solve our problems when if someone admits to their problem we crush them.

We are truly a very unchristian and vindictive country -

I have stopped blaming congress - we are the sole cause of our problems.

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes

Side note - the story the press is not covering - If you are a black Congresswomen you get treated differently by the police than if you are a white congressman- that is the real story

Posted by: BObby Wightman-Cervantes | May 5, 2006 8:04 PM | Report abuse


Sort of reminds me of that crazy Bush family -- half are drug addicts, the other half drug runners!

Posted by: Humma I. Kiddins | May 5, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

"Fair" enough I guess I should say RI Native, abt Kennedy, yer right and its the nature of the job I guess. but the right-wing skew machine is just so overdone by now that its just sickening. We need to clean house and we HAVE to get the hell out of Iraq. Btw, OT, kudos to Scott McLellan on his last WHPB, he may have been complicit in a couple gigantic conspiracies, but hey, he seems like a nice guy. Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | May 5, 2006 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah, the Pugs think they can pick off a Dem in RI? LOL!!!! You Nuts!

Rhode Island never forgets its own (see former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci) and would never, not in a billion years, abandon a Kennedy, and certainly not a wounded one. All Patrick has to do is say he's sorry, and all will be forgiven.

Posted by: tab khan | May 5, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Like father, like son. Getting away with recklessness behind the steering wheel is definitely a Kennedy problem. Just when we all thought the streets were safe. Wrong!

Posted by: Edward H. Gaulin | May 5, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

what do you expect? Both his parents are substance abusing whores. Please, it's genetic.

Posted by: DC | May 5, 2006 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry "Fair", can't agree. It is legitimate to at least ask if the seat may be vulnerable. RI Populist's blog shows that. It's one of the first questions any political junkie would ask.

How long it's legitimate to continue to ask, is another matter.

Anything with the Kennedy name tagged to it is not simply a "just one in 435" story. That's just a fact of life.

Concurring with you on one point must be a slew of editors, because I did notice that the Porter Goss story was above the Kennedy story on all of the websites I've seen in the past couple of hours.

Posted by: RI Native in DC | May 5, 2006 6:48 PM | Report abuse

>>>Chris writes about what's in the news and being talked about by those in the know, not what he feels will serve a political agenda

Cilliza does not, usually, write about news issues unless they are tied to nuts & bolts politics (elections, campaigns, fundraising, PACs, etc). The only reason to post something like this with the headline: "Is Kennedy's Seat Now Vulnerable?" is to inflate rhetoric for the purpose of driving a political agenda. CC himself thinks, I would bet, that Kennedy's seat is most likely not in jeopardy.

If he wanted to report on news, what would be more important, the personal struggle of one Representative out of 435, OR, the rather sudden resignation of the HEAD OF THE CIA?


Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | May 5, 2006 6:15 PM | Report abuse

The best political blog in Rhode Island - - is reporting that there is a Republican challenger to Kennedy:

...Republican Edmund R. Leather announced on Arlene Violet that he will be challenging Patrick in District 1. Leather, of 137 Catlin Ave. in Rumford, is retired and has not filed any paperwork to run as of yet. He was an active Bush-Cheney volunteer in 2004. He is a 1960 graduate of Brown University....


Posted by: RI Populist | May 5, 2006 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Why shouldn't The Fix run this. Kennedy's home town paper ( has not one word (zero, zilch) on this on its website site. Even though they update only once a day, the story is two news days old. On MSNBC last night, Nancy Grace couldn't spend enough time showing the April accident report and have the Boston Herald's nut columnist Howie Carr on as a supposed expert. It's been out there.

Actually didn't it actually show some discretion until waiting for Kennedy's press conference? The right-wing nuts could just as easily be complaining that The Fix waited too long.

Coming from that same Congressional District, I have to say that I've never heard Mr. Blanchard's quote about there not being "enough Kennedy's in Congress" used by anybody there. But, my guess is that Blanchard's comment about having and acknowledging demons is what the voters in that district will recognize. It's no secret in the district that Kennedy had an abuse problem.

The seat (FYI is in Rhode Island, not "Mass."; there are differences) was Republican for a few terms before Kennedy with Ron Matchley (now President at Bryant University) serving in it.

Kennedy did the smart thing by not showing the arrogance or hubris of a DeLay or Cunningham. This also gives him plenty of time to do whatever it takes to work on getting re-elected. My guess is that his winning percentage goes down, but he still wins.

I'm disappointed that it was only three blogs before somebody took a shot making a connection to Chappaquiddick. The bell rang and they started salivating immediately.

Posted by: RI Native in DC | May 5, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

The police made the situation worse by not giving Kennedy a blood test for alcohol, but claiming in their report that he was alcohol influenced.

If they though Kennedy was drinking, then why didn't they do the test? Since they did not give him a test, then how could they write in their report that he was alcohol influenced? Besides that, any accident should require an automatic test for alcohol.

The cop who let Kennedy go should be fired for incompetence. Now it will be impossible for Kennedy to prove that he was not drinking before the accident.

Also, Ambien, one of the perscriptions Kennedy is taken has a history of causing people to sleep walk, and can induce one or more negative side effects, including hallucinations and/or amnesia.

"I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police, or being cited for three driving infractions," Kennedy said.

My guess is it was the Ambien that caused Kennedy to stagger and not alcohol. That plus being in an accident very early in the morning.

Posted by: KEVIN SCHMIDT, STERLING VA | May 5, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

As much as I think Chris is a biased, Republican hack...he's asking a fair question there. Granted, there have been plenty of fair questions about Republicans that he could, and can, ask but hasn't and doesn't, but this question about if Kennedy is vulnerable after a car crash caused by drug addiction is a fair question.

If anything can make a Kennedy in Mass. vulnerable, this would be it.

Posted by: J. Crozier | May 5, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse


A personnel problem does not affect me nor does it endanger anyone else. However, Kennedy did endanger others with poor judgment and he initially lied about the incident. Our neighbor, SD, had a congressman, Janklow, convicted of manslaughter after he had a personal problem with a stop sign. Unfortunately, the judge gave the congressman a light sentence. However, I am glad that driving under the influence is considered only personal problem. We in the Midwest have higher standards

Posted by: Iowa Dem. | May 5, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

some rich guy like Kennedy or Rush uses drugs and gets away with it while everyone makes excuses for them, while some poor, black mo'fo' goes to prison.
Biss my kutt, rich boys!

Posted by: dude | May 5, 2006 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Why would CC run a post about the President today? "Hmmm, Patrick Kennedy was involved in an accident yesterday that's all over the news...I'll write about George W. Bush's substance abuse!" I think that Chris writes about what's in the news and being talked about by those in the know, not what he feels will serve a political agenda. I would be disappointed and upset if he failed to post about this sort of incident, regardless of what party the member belonged to.

Posted by: samb04 | May 5, 2006 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Rep. P.Kennedy is not (in spite of being a Democrat) an unintelligent man.
Almost every one knows that you should never drive nor operate machinery after having taken pain or sleep disorder medicine.
Why is this man not being charged with DUI as almost any other citizen would be.
As to whether this is a reason why he should resign?
That is up to him or his party or even perhaps the electorate.

Posted by: SG 1 | May 5, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

This is interesting: A congressman has a personal problem, admits, seeks treatment, and the right-wingers call for his head. Let's think about this... Hmmm. Right! NEVER admit when you're wrong!

Comparing this to DeLay and the other GOP sleaze balls is a joke.

Posted by: Skeptical | May 5, 2006 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey Robert,

If we had more Kennedys in congress, the streets might be more deserted for fear of their driving skills. That is one way to lower our dependency on foreign oil. I am glad to see that character does not count. Hey maybe Kennedy could room with Rush during treatment. Thank you for reasons why you would not vote for a candidate. I guess if Delay was liberal his ethics issues would be fine with you as least he votes the way I want him too. Pleeeeeeeeeeease!!!!

Unfortunately, its views like yours that keeps people such as the Delays and Kennedys in power and is the reason no reform will ever take hold in congress.

Posted by: Iowa Dem. | May 5, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

This is a non-issue (really, a personal issue for Kennedy) that I just KNEW Cilliza couldnt wait to post. Why not run a post abt our President, the admitted alcoholic and former cokehead?

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | May 5, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

About 40% of Rhode Island voters, (myself included) are considered part of the Kennedy voting block.

Congressman Kennedy would have to shoot a nun in Central Park, in broad daylight, on video tape, for his seat to be vulnerable.

Jesse Helms had his "block" of voters and here in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the Kennedy family has their block of voters.

I am proud and deeply honored that Patrick Kennedy is my Congressman.

Few of us are without private demons, and his brave acknowledgement challenges all of us to summon compassion for a man who has struggled with his for years.

As the saying goes, in this part of the country, "There are not ENOUGH Kennedys in Congress"

Posted by: Robert Blanchard | May 5, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

And Sen Edward Kennedy is justifiably proud, especially since they didn't find a dead woman at the bottom of the security barrier.

I say again for anybody that's listening: This is what's wrong with this country right now, the Republicans are corrupt, the Democrats are corrupt. We are being ruled by the priviledged elite. The system is configured to prevent regular citizens from being able to afford to run for office. These folks are not going to enact any real election reform, it just isnt in their best interests. We the citizenry need to force the issue by voting 3rd party!

Posted by: D~ | May 5, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Is it too late for a Democat to challenge Kennedy in a primary? That is what he would probably have to worry about most, no?

Posted by: RTN08 | May 5, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

This is crazy. Democrats are trying to win back the house and senate. I thought that Democrats could not find new ways to shoot themselves in the foot.

Posted by: moderate dem | May 5, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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