NAUGATUCK, Conn. — Republican Linda McMahon, candidate for Connecticut Senate, got a warm greeting at the Naugatuck Senior Center Tuesday.
The former wrestling mogul is locked in a tight race with Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy to fill retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman’s Senate seat. Despite the state’s Democratic leanings, McMahon is tied or ahead of Murphy in recent polls.
McMahon, dressed in a brown blouse black skirt, and knee high black suede boots with a short heel, made her rounds at the senior center open house, deftly weaving around booths and slow-moving seniors.
She received a warm welcome. One woman told her she was even more beautiful in person. An older woman, hunched over a walker, gave a slow-motion chase of the candidate, determined to get a hug and speak to her.
“She’s getting away from me!” she said, and McMahon, alerted, doubled back to greet her.
McMahon worked the crowd, shaking hands, giving hugs and patiently posing for numerous pictures.
At one of the tables, McMahon excitedly bought a $40 doll dressed in a hand knit green and white dress and bloomers and a cap for one of her three granddaughters.
“One of my three granddaughters will be very happy,” she said. “The other two will fight over it.”
The one male staffer present at the event was then tasked with the duty of carrying the doll around for the duration of the event.
An event at a senior center brings to mind issues like Medicare, and indeed, McMahon was asked about that.
“I will not support any budget that would cut funding for seniors,” McMahon told an older woman.
“That’s the primary focus that I would want to leave them with,” McMahon told The Daily Caller in a private interview later.
“They have paid for it, they rely on it, and it would be unfair to do that. I also said we are going to have to reform it, because it will not be around,” she went on. “But that has to be in a bipartisan effort in which we’re putting all issues on the table and we know where we’re going.”
But voters’ main focus, even at a senior center, McMahon told TheDC, was jobs and the economy. McMahon spoke often about her six-point jobs plan, and said that having is on paper has helped her campaign this year.
“The fact that I have a jobs plan is something [voters] can latch on to. They can look at it, they can read it, they can understand where I’m coming from,” McMahon said. “It’s a six-point jobs plan; it’s very detailed.”
“Rep. Murphy, on the other hand, says his jobs plan is a work in progress,” she said. “People are tired of hearing it’s a work in progress. They want action, they want somebody who’s come from the private sector who has a real skill set to do that, and that’s exactly why I think my message is resonating throughout the state.”
She criticized Murphy for his handling of the revelation that he had been sued for foreclosure in 2007, careful to say that her attack was on his reaction to the situation, not the fact that he had financial troubles.
“I’ve had my own experience of having financial difficulties, so not in any way saying anything negative about him relative to that; however, I think, especially as a sitting congressman, you need to be forthcoming and address these issues and explain exactly what happened and be honest with the people of Connecticut,” she said. “And I don’t think he’s done that. And he should do that. Congress, I think, has to be held at a higher standard. We can’t perceived as getting better deals, and he needs to come forward and explain that.”
She also criticized her opponent for his continually attacks on her for her time running World Wrestling Entertainment, saying that it showed a dearth of serious policy proposals.
WWE was a subject that McMahon generally shied away from in the interview. She said she was “very proud of that company” and its success, but did not address any specifics of her time there, using it only as a way to pivot to her business background or her jobs plan. On the subject of the WWE removing older, explicit material from its website this week, she said she had “no thoughts on that whatsoever.”
But she touted her experience as businesswoman running WWE as a crucial part of her resume.
“My entire business career was building a business and reforming an industry. So I’m very proud of that company. … The skill set that I bring as a CEO of setting a strategic vision, building skill teams to execute that vision, inspiring those people motivating them, holding them accountable, leading them — I’m good at that,” she said.
But WWE was not a factor in the campaign, she suggested, saying said she had had only two people broach the subject with her that morning.
“One said, ‘I’ve watched it all of my life, it’s been great entertainment.’ The other one was: ‘my grandmother would never miss watching WWE.’ … It’s a Hollywood soap opera, and you can like it or not, but what the folks in Connecticut are concerned with — just like all over our country — are jobs and the economy.”