WASHINGTON Jan 12, 2005 Sen. Edward Kennedy offered a mild dig at fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign Wednesday, saying Democrats should have done a better job talking about values.

Kennedy said relatively small swings in several states including a shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio could have triggered a different outcome or given Democrats more seats in the House and Senate. He also rejected suggestions that Bush's win was "somehow a sweeping or a modest or even a miniature mandate for reactionary measures like privatizing Social Security."

While Kennedy said it is too easy to blame the loss on a particular issue or tactic, Democrats do need to "do a better job of looking within ourselves and speaking out for the principles we believe in."

"We were remiss in not talking more directly about them about the fundamental ideals that guide our progressive policies," he said. He added that Kerry's loss also showed that Democrats must communicate better with voters on issues of deep conscience, including abortion, without yielding the party's support for a woman's right to choose.

In a speech punctuated with broad liberal proposals to expand federal support for education and Medicare, Kennedy outlined a progressive agenda for Congress and the party. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

"We cannot move our party or our nation forward under pale colors and timid voices," said Kennedy, who has served 42 years in the Senate. "We cannot become Republican clones. If we do, we will lose again, and deserve to lose."

He said Medicare should be gradually expanded to cover all citizens, and the cost would be funded through payroll taxes and general revenues and offset by savings through advances in technology.

Kennedy also called for greater federal support for college costs, saying every student who is admitted to college should be guaranteed the cost of earning a degree.

Danny Diaz, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said that while the GOP is working on health care and other issues, Kennedy's remarks "offered anger, but lacked an agenda for the future."

Kennedy's speech came as Democrats divided and battered by the second bitter presidential defeat in a row continue to wrangle over their party's direction.

But Kennedy declined to say who should lead the party as the next Democratic National Committee chairman. The contest is wide open and all of the candidates including former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean would bring a different experience and talent to the job, he said.

Ever since Kerry's loss and GOP's gains in both the House and Senate Democrats have been chewing over their inability to connect with enough voters to wrest the Oval Office from a president weakened by a faltering economy and an increasingly unpopular war.

And they have debated how to compete with Republicans for the support of social conservatives whose votes may have been swayed by hot-button values issues like abortion, religion and gay marriage.

On Wednesday, Kennedy also laid down markers for the coming congressional session, vowing to defeat President Bush's efforts to revamp Social Security and to reject policies that send jobs overseas.

In other comments, Kennedy deftly dodged a question about whether foreign-born citizens should be allowed to become president.

"I didn't know David Ortiz was planning to run," said Kennedy, referring to the Boston Red Sox slugger who is Dominican.

He then looked out at his sister Eunice Shriver, who was in the audience, and said, "Did you hear that, Eunice?"

Shriver's daughter Maria is married to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been talked about as a potential presidential contender but was born in Austria.

Kennedy also mangled the name of the Democrats' new star, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, calling him "Osama bin Osama Obama."