The 37-year-old three-term congressman will appear on national TV following Trump’s speech on Jan. 30 to present the Democratic Party’s response, according to The Boston Globe.
The latest generation of the Kennedy political dynasty from Massachusetts is expected to appeal to working- and middle-class voters, who the Democrats will likely say have been abandoned by the president, despite Trump’s campaign pledges.
Kennedy, of Brookline, will appear as a blast from the Democratic Party past, but also as a fresh face on a national platform that could have the power to galvanize voters. He’s the great-nephew of JFK and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, grandson of the late U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, and son of former Congressman Joseph Kennedy.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hailed Kennedy as a “relentless fighter for working Americans.” While Trump has “consistently broken his promises to the middle class, Congressman Kennedy profoundly understands the challenges facing hard-working men and women across the country,” she said in a statement announcing Kennedy’s selection.
Democrat Elizabeth Guzman, the first Hispanic female immigrant elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, will follow Kennedy’s response with a speech in Spanish.
Kennedy’s profile has been rising since Trump’s election, particularly in his defense of immigrant and LGBTQ rights, as well as the Affordable Care Act.
After Kennedy ripped Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for calling the death of Obamacare an “act of mercy,” Kennedy characterized it as an “act of malice.” Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee gushed: “This is a Kennedy who could be president,” the Globe noted.
Kennedy will be the first Massachusetts politician to deliver the response since 1985, when then-House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O’Neill joined Bill Clinton (who was Arkansas governor at the time) and then-Florida Gov. Bob Graham. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) responded in 1982.
Trump may announce his immigration plan during the speech, and is expected to unveil a $1.7 trillion infrastructure package, according to The Hill.