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CBS's Rodriguez: If GOP Wins in Massachusetts, Can Dems Slow Swearing In?

While concluding a story on the Massachusetts Senate race on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez acknowledged the possibility that Republican Scott Brown could win the long held Democratic seat but wondered: "It'll be interesting to see if Brown, the Republican, wins, if the Democrats can defer his swearing in and get health care passed. We will watch that."

At the top of the show, Rodriguez teased the story: "In Massachusetts it's more than just a Senate race, it's a battle that could end President Obama's fight for health care reform." Correspondent Nancy Cordes followed up with a report that also focused on the impact the race would have on health care: "The President was here campaigning yesterday for the Democrat. And no wonder, if she loses, it will be a major blow to his ability to get his agenda passed."

Cordes observed how affective Brown's opposition to ObamaCare has been: "Coakley's Republican challenger...has made stopping the health care reform bill a signature issue. A message that seems to be resonating with voters." She then fretted: "If Coakley loses this race, Democrats will lose their supermajority in the Senate. Meaning they won't be able to pass Democratic priorities like health care reform unless they can convince a few Republicans to vote with them."

Rodriguez asked Cordes what was to blame for the Democrats potentially losing the seat: "Is the consensus that this is more - Scott Brown's rise - is more about a feeling of going against President Obama or is it an attack on how Coakley has run her campaign?" Cordes focused on Coakley's weak campaign: "There's a sense here that the Coakley campaign sort of took this race for granted after she sailed to victory in the primary because they didn't properly read the political winds blowing in the country, didn't think that those winds would blow into Massachusetts. Didn't see the current dissatisfaction over health care reform."

Here is a full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE: MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: In Massachusetts it's more than just a Senate race, it's a battle that could end President Obama's fight for health care reform. We'll tell you why Republicans are smelling victory.

7:08AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Right now to the hotly contested race in Massachusetts for the Senate seat left vacant by the late Ted Kennedy. The special election is tomorrow. This is key to the President's battle for health care reform. And it is a sprint to the finish for both candidates. CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes is in Cambridge, Massachusetts with the latest. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning to you, Maggie, from snowy Massachusetts. Where it seems like the entire political world has congregated. Both sides are pulling out all the stops for this close race. The President was here campaigning yesterday for the Democrat. And no wonder, if she loses, it will be a major blow to his ability to get his agenda passed.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The Race For Kennedy's Seat; Obama Campaigns As GOP Hopes For Upset]

BARACK OBAMA: And I am here to tell you that the person for that job is your attorney general, Martha Coakley.

CORDES: Up until just a few weeks ago, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley was considered a shoo-in. After all, the seat she's seeking has been in Democratic hands since 1962. But a spade of recent polls, including a new Suffolk University survey, show her losing to Republican opponent Scott Brown by a few points. Democrats decided late last week to send in the President. Coakley's Republican challenger, Scott Brown, has made stopping the health care reform bill a signature issue. A message that seems to be resonating with voters.

SCOTT BROWN: Come Tuesday, we are going send a thunder clap around the country to let people know not only here in Massachusetts, but the people in Washington, that they're tired and we're tired of business as usual in Washington.

CORDES: If Coakley loses this race, Democrats will lose their supermajority in the Senate. Meaning they won't be able to pass Democratic priorities like health care reform unless they can convince a few Republicans to vote with them.

JON KELLER [POLITICAL ANALYST, WBZ-TV]: It would be just the latest in a series of really eyebrow-rasing indications that the public is tiring of the show they're seeing in Washington.

CORDES: Many political analysts expect this race to hinge on turnout. Statewide, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one. But 51% consider themselves independent and they are the ones, Maggie, who will decide this race.

RODRIGUEZ: Nancy, I think it's important to point out that Republicans haven't won a Senate seat in that state since 1972. Is the consensus that this is more - Scott Brown's rise - is more about a feeling of going against President Obama or is it an attack on how Coakley has run her campaign?

CORDES: Well, I think those two are related. There's a sense here that the Coakley campaign sort of took this race for granted after she sailed to victory in the primary because they didn't properly read the political winds blowing in the country, didn't think that those winds would blow into Massachusetts. Didn't see the current dissatisfaction over health care reform. And so they ran a kind of laid back campaign where she didn't hold a lot of events, she didn't run a lot of ads. At the same time that Brown was coming on strong, blanketing the airwaves, and holding events everywhere.

RODRIGUEZ: It'll be interesting to see if Brown, the Republican, wins, if the Democrats can defer his swearing in and get health care passed. We will watch that. Nancy, thank you.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.