Barney Frank Praises Potential Successor, Joseph Kennedy III, Downplays Family Name

Retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) praised his potential successor, Joseph Kennedy III, on Friday, a day after the former Middlesex County, Mass., announced his bid for Congress.

"Political campaigning is a strange business -- I've always had to deal with the fact that I think I'm better at legislating than campaigning," Frank said on MSNBC of Kennedy, calling him "an engaging guy." "I wasn't a natural campaigner. Joe Kennedy, he's a better campaigner than I was."

Frank added that Kennedy understood income inequality and the private sector, strongly disputing that he was entitled because of his last name. "There isn't a trace in him of any sense that this is by right or by inheritance. This is not a guy who thinks he's entitled to anything," he said.

When asked further about whether the Kennedy name could hurt him, he said, "It would hurt him if people imputed to him this media obsession. I don't think they will. This isn't his fault. If people thought he was somehow inviting this or reveling it they'd be resentful. The media can go off on whatever tangents it wants."

If elected, Kennedy would mark the return of a Kennedy to Congress following the retirement of Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) in 2011.

Kennedy, 31, recently resigned from his position as a Middlesex County prosecutor. He moved from Cambridge to Brookline to be in the district. He is the son of Joseph Kennedy II, who represented a neighboring congressional district, and the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy.

Kennedy will face either Sean Bielat, who lost to Frank two years ago, or former state mental health commissioner Elizabeth Childs.