McMahon campaign gets a ‘Jersey style’ boost from Christie

To insure her supporters were motivated with a mere two weeks to go before the election, Republican senatorial candidate Linda McMahon brought out one of the party’s biggest stars this week.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie brought his distinctive personality to three events for Ms. McMahon on Monday, appearing with her in Stamford, Waterbury and Glastonbury to crowds of cheering supporters. The Greenwich resident is in a tight race for the Senate seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), and a new poll this week from Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports gives Democrat U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy only a one-point lead over Ms. McMahon after he led by five earlier this month.

This follows a Hartford Courant/University of Connecticut poll from last week that gave Mr. Murphy a six-point lead, but with 17% undecided, leaving this race very much in play.

At the Stamford event, Ms. McMahon and Mr. Christie appeared before a crowd of supporters that included Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei, state Rep. Livvy Floren (R-149th District) and several prominent town Republicans. Greenwich Democrat Ned Lamont, who famously ran a successful primary campaign against Mr. Lieberman in 2006 that caused him to become an independent, even appeared, telling the Post that he wanted to see Mr. Christie in person even though he personally remains a strong supporter of Mr. Murphy.

Both Ms. McMahon and Mr. Christie spoke at the Stamford event, and Ms. McMahon talked, as she has many times in the past, about the personal reasons she was running for the Senate, saying she had been through the “trials and tribulations” of growing a business and that she feels her business perspective and skills are needed in Washington.

“I looked at the faces of my grandchildren,” Ms. McMahon said. “I had four at the time and I have six now. I worried about the country we were leaving them. Our debt was increasing and we were passing that burden on to them. It didn’t seem to me that we had people in Washington who were paying attention to that bottom line. That’s something we have to do. We have to stop spending more than we make. We know we are heading towards the fiscal cliff at the end of this year and we have to make changes. We have to send different people to Washington.”

Ms. McMahon noted that her well-publicized “Linda’s plan” includes a middle-class tax cut, reducing business taxes while getting rid of loopholes and certain deductions, reducing spending, increasing training for workers, and “rolling back overburdensome regulations” on businesses. She also called for developing a “comprehensive energy policy” that included continuing efforts to drill for oil and natural gas in environmentally safe ways, a remark that drew loud cheers from the crowd.

“There are 170,000 people waking up in our state without a job,” Ms. McMahon said. “I’ve got a plan to put them back to work.”

Mr. Christie said he was proud to be able to lend his voice to Ms. McMahon’s campaign and urged her supporters to work as hard as they could during “these extraordinarily important two weeks” before Election Day. He predicted that all the people who think she can’t win in Connecticut as a Republican would be proven wrong, like the doubters who said he couldn’t win in traditionally Democratic New Jersey.

“They’ll try to tell you that, well, Connecticut is a blue state and therefore you should vote for a Democrat and that’s the way it should be,” Mr. Christie said. “They’ll tell Republicans that. They’ll tell Democrats that. They’ll tell independents that. If that were the only decision in this race maybe that would be some solid advice. But what you really have here is a distinction between someone who has spent her life working to build things and create things and her opponent who has spent his life as a career politician, the very type of divisive figure that we need to get out of Washington.”

Mr. Christie unloaded the heavy criticism of Mr. Murphy, saying he “might as well be Nancy Pelosi’s butler” because of how similar his voting record is to that of the former speaker of the house, who serves as the Democrats’ minority leader in Congress.

“He will be a straight-line, partisan Democrat, and we don’t need any more people in the United States Senate who are going to go to their corner, only speak to people in their clubhouse and not reach across the aisle,” Mr. Christie said. “We need someone who is practical and smart, who is experienced and who will work with Republicans or Democrats. If the idea is good, she’ll help to get it done.”

The McMahon campaign isn’t the only one looking to bring in extra star power in the closing weeks of the race. Last week, Mr. Murphy was joined at a campaign appearance in Stamford by U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), a Greenwich native, at the University of Connecticut by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and then by Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H). Then this coming Sunday, Mr. Murphy’s campaign is expected to get a major boost at a Waterbury rally with former President Bill Clinton on Sunday at 3.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a Greenwich resident, has also made several appearances with Mr. Murphy in recent weeks. Last week in Stamford, Mr. Blumenthal, who defeated Ms. McMahon in 2010 during her first run for the Senate, did not refer to her by name but urged Democrats to support Mr. Murphy, saying that he knows “what he is going through,” given the amount of money Ms. McMahon has spent on the race.

“That money is being spent on lies and distortions,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “There’s no polite way to put it.”

Mr. Schumer said Ms. McMahon was not part of “the mainstream tradition of Connecticut Republicanism that has always been moderate” but rather part of the “hard right” group of Republicans he and his colleagues see in Washington.

Mr. Coons, who defeated Christine O’Donnell, best known for her “I am not a witch” television ad in his 2010 race, compared his opponent to Ms. McMahon and said they both gave memorable quotes, had Tea Party support and were great on TV “for a moment.” He then cited Ms. McMahon’s past as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in mentioning her performances at her debates with Mr. Murphy.

“WWE actually stands for a World of Waffling and Equivocation,” Mr. Coons said, leading Mr. Murphy to jokingly hire him as a campaign spokesman.

In her remarks on Monday with Mr. Christie at her side, Ms. McMahon looked to strike a bipartisan tone, claiming she would be the one eager to work across the aisle to get things done in Washington. She cited an op-ed written earlier this year by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz that she said she wished she had written.

“He said that we hope that in November after the elections, that Democrats wouldn’t feel that they had won and that Republicans wouldn’t feel that they had won,” Ms. McMahon said. “But that the American people would feel they had won. I want the folks of Connecticut to feel that they had won.”

In keeping with his style, though, Mr. Christie struck a bit more of a playfully combative tone, saying he wanted to come back to Connecticut in January and didn’t want to be greeted there by Sen. Chris Murphy.

“If I come back here and Chris Murphy is a United States senator, I will not be in the fine and pleasant mood I’m in today,” Mr. Christie said. “You do not want me to go Jersey on you people.”

 

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