HARTFORD, Conn.—Republican Linda McMahon is closing the gap with Democrat Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut’s U.S. Senate race, leading political observers in the Nutmeg State to seriously ponder an outcome considered out-of-question a few weeks ago: that McMahon, the head of the World Wrestling Federation, can become Connecticut’s first Republican senator in 22 years.
A Rasmussen Poll on Friday showed multi-millionaire McMahon trailing Blumenthal—whose 20 years as state attorney general have led to the nickname “Eternal General”—53%-44%.
|John Gizzi talks to Connecticut Republican Senate nominee Linda McMahon at the Connecticut Expo Center on Saturday|
“Linda’s going to win and it will help the rest of the Republican ticket, right down to legislative candidates,” State GOP Chairman Chris Healy told HUMAN EVENTS, citing McMahon’s deployment of $25 million of her own wealth (so far) and the first-time candidate’s mastery of retail politics.
Healy’s view was strongly seconded by Newington, Conn., Mayor and Republican nominee for state treasurer Jeff Wright, who said “After all these months [on TV spots], Linda’s a rock star. You should see the way people flock to be photographed with her, and get her autograph. And she loves it!”
McMahon campaigned recently at the annual Women’s Expo at the Connecticut Expo Center in Hartford. Competing with booths from local businesses and popular stars of soap operas who call Connecticut home, the GOP Senate hopeful attracted crowds as large as anyone. Visitors crowded her booth, seeking pictures and autographs, and McMahon happily complied.
“They like my message,” McMahon later said in an interview, explaining to HUMAN EVENTS that she is “conservative on economic issues and moderate on social issues” and that she is someone who, in her words, “doesn’t have to sacrifice my independence.”
Her self-expenditure of $25 million (“or something like that”), she said, “has been well-received by the people of Connecticut. They see the utility of me investing in myself, that I won’t take money from political action committees and that I will only accept donations from others up to $100. And this hasn’t discouraged volunteers, believe me.”
Social Moderate, Economic Conservative
As to what see means by “moderate on social issues,” McMahon volunteered that “I know the issue that comes to mind and I’m a pro-choice candidate [on abortion]. But I’m pro-choice with caveats—against partial birth abortion, against any federal funding [for abortion], and I believe parents should be notified when a [child] wants an abortion.”
Campaign press secretary Jodi Latina later explained that McMahon also believes the issue of marriage “is strictly a state issue and should be decided by the states.” The Connecticut legislature has passed a bill permitting gay marriage.
Would McMahon have voted to confirm Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan?
Without hesitation, she replied: “More than likely, I would have voted for both of them. Did I agree with everything I read about them? No. But the President does appoint jurists and if they have the right temperament and background, I feel they should be confirmed, even if I don’t agree with them on everything.”
The Republican nominee added that she did not want to see activist justices but rather Supreme Court justices who rule according to the Constitution.
Her top priority if elected to the Senate is “getting people back to work and getting the economy back on track. That means reducing debt and reducing spending and not raising taxes.”
Warming to her self-description as “conservative on economic issues,” McMahon said that she specifically would “roll back non-defense discretionary spending to ’08 levels, freeze federal hiring and federal pay.” She would also use the unspent TARP and stimulus money to directly help private businesses.
McMahon would definitely repeal Obamacare “if I could, but if [a Republican Congress] can’t do this next year, then I would fight the funding of it.”
Where some GOP candidates are calling for privatization of Social Security and phasing out Medicare, McMahon simply says, “We have to address and strengthen programs like that and we cannot keep going the way we are.” But she stopped short of offering specific programs, saying “those debates are for the legislative arena and not on the campaign trail.”
McMahon stopped short of calling for rolling back the capital gains tax, noting “I want to keep the Bush tax cuts and not raise the capital gains tax beyond the current 15% rate. It’s important that we invest and grow, but cutting federal spending has to be a priority. It is my priority.”
With the first debates between herself and Blumenthal scheduled for early October, McMahon says their premier differences will be on Obamacare (“He’s for it”), increasing taxes (“I wouldn’t and he would”), his support for allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire and for ca- and-trade climate legislation.
As to what it will be like to face someone who has never lost an election in more than a quarter-century of politics, the ever-upbeat first-time candidate McMahon said: “I can’t wait.”