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Posted 3/19/12

McMahon Meets The Press


Linda McMahon Speaks
Photo by Steve Kotchko

Republican Linda McMahon, the former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2010, is back on the hustings and once again running for the Senate.  She launched her campaign last fall, but for the most part has been out of the headlines.  McMahon sees her strength as meeting up close and personal in small groups, especially with women voters, a demographic that didn’t rally to her in the last campaign.

Last week, McMahon held her first formal media event since announcement day.  This one was held at a woodworking company in Newington, with table saws and lathes as the back drop as the candidate unveiled what was called “Linda’s Plan to Put America Back to Work.”  If you want to see the entire proposal you can go to:  www.lindasplan.com.

At the heart of McMahon’s plan is a middle class tax cut, trimming the federal tax rate from 25% down to 15%.  Said McMahon:  “Under my plan, a Connecticut family of four, earning $125,000 a year, will save $6000 next year.”

McMahon also would cut business taxes to, in her words, “level the playing field for our job creators.”  To do so, McMahon wants to set the top bracket for all business income at 25% instead of the current 35% rate.  She claims U.S businesses now operate “with one hand tied behind their backs” because America has one of the highest business tax rates in the world.

The candidate also wants to attack government regulation.  “Overregulation is a job killer,” said McMahon.  What regulations?  Well, McMahon wants to “repeal Obamacare”, the President’s new health care plan and she also wants to alter the relatively new Dodd-Frank law, sponsored by former Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd.  The law was a response to the financial disaster of 2008 triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis.

The other components of McMahon’s plan are familiar:  curb federal spending, borrowing and debt, improve job training, and develop U.S. energy resources.

The setting for McMahon’s newser, a small business, was similar to a press event that she held in 2010 that spun out of control.  Asked for her views on the minimum wage, McMahon fumbled a bit, her aides cut off the news conference, but reporters followed outside where the detailed Q&A on the minimum wage became a p-r nightmare.

That was pretty much the end of media interviews for McMahon in the 2010 battle.  She spent the rest of the campaign doing private events and spending a ton of money on TV ads where the campaign could control the content.

In last week’s press outing, McMahon did better, providing detailed answers to reporters’ questions about her jobs plan.  That’s not to say McMahon totally avoided controversy.

Asked if she might agree to debate her Republican rival more than the two times apparently already in play, McMahon said:  “I’m really anxious to debate.  I’m happy to debate my plan..with (former) Congressman Shays (her rival Christopher Shays).”  Then she added:  “I’m ready and willing to debate, but I’ll leave the details up to my campaign staff—I’ll debate what we think is the right amount.”

More troubling for McMahon was a somewhat garbled response to questions involving President Obama’s push to have insurers pay for birth control, and the so-called Blunt Amendment, defeated in the Senate, that tried to overrule that directive.

“That whole issue tried to focus on contraception, but that issue was really about government trying to tell those of a particular religious persuasion how they needed to think and behave,” said McMahon.  “I believe in the separation of church and state and I think that was an over reach by the government.”

Asked if she would have voted for the Blunt Amendment to counter Obama, McMahon said:  “I probably would have supported the Blunt Amendment.  I wouldn’t have raced to do it, but I probably would have supported it.”

Democrats claim McMahon said earlier this month she would have “declined to endorse” the amendment, then changed her tune to say she likely would have supported it.

Looking to “blunt”, if you will, McMahon’s 2012 push to woo women voters, Democratic State Chair Nancy DiNardo charged that “a vote for Linda McMahon would be a vote for restricting women’s access to necessary health care services.”  DiNardo said knowing McMahon “probably” would have backed the Blunt Amendment “means Connecticut voters will definitely reject her candidacy again.”

McMahon promised to hold more media events as the campaign wears on, but said her supporters and voters “are really the folks I want to talk to all of the time.”

Follow Steve Kotchko on Twitter for news and insider tidbits on politics and government@CRN_News