By Jeremy P. Jacobs - 06/21/09 11:09 AM EDT
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is turning to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to bolster his own re-election bid.
Kennedy, perhaps Dodd's closest friend in the Senate, stars in a new television ad the Connecticut Democrat is running a year and a half before Election Day and vouches for Dodd's efforts to reform the nation's healthcare system.
Dodd has been longtime friends with Kennedy and chaired the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during its mark up of Kennedy's healthcare reform legislation this week in Kennedy's absence. Kennedy has been away from Capitol Hill continuing his fight with brain cancer.
Dodd has come under fire for his role in inserting a provision in the economic stimulus package that allowed the bailed out American International Group to pay out million in bonuses. The Treasury Department has since said it instructed the Democrat to add the provision.
That, along with allegations that Dodd received mortgages at preferential rates that have since come under question, have made Dodd the more vulnerable in Connecticut than he has ever been before. Republicans are particularly excited about challenger and former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.). Three other Republicans have also announced they will run against Dodd.
On Sunday, Dodd said he has spoken with Kennedy and that the Bay State Democrat is doing well.
"I talked to him the other day, had a good conversation with him," Dodd said on ABC's "This Week." "In fact, the day we started the mark up in the health committee on health care, he's been a champion of that for four decades. And he stays very engaged, very involved, knows everything that's going on."
In a statement, Jay Howser, Dodd's campaign manager, said Kennedy felt comfortable handing off the helm of his committee to Dodd since the Connecticut Democrat has been a leading voice on healthcare.
"Having seen the results on these and other issues Dodd's been involved in, Kennedy felt confident tapping him for this job," Howser said. "This is a critical conversation our nation is having, and Connecticut's Chris Dodd is leading the debate."