A Middlebury barbecue for Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Sunday afternoon brought out a pretty wide gamut of folks. From the diehard Blumenthal supporters to the undecided and curious.
Republican Dennis Small of Middlebury, who has worked on local Democratic campaigns, said he’s got an open mind about politics and just might vote for Blumenthal.
“I don’t want to follow the party line all the time. I want to make a decision that’s the best for Middlebury and the state of Connecticut,” he said. “I try to look at the candidates, rather than what political party they’re from.”
Middlebury is a Republican town.
Another Republican at the dog-and-burger party said he’s unsure who will get his vote for Senate, and asked not to be identified.
Then there was Michael DiMassa, a West Haven Democratic delegate at this year’s convention.
“Richard Blumenthal is one of the greatest political figures in Connecticut. He cares about the people. He means what he says. He’s right up there with (Connecticut U.S. Rep.) Rosa DeLauro,” DiMassa said.
And there was West Haven Democratic fixture Donald Siclari. “Dick to me is a very refreshing person. He is here for everybody. I can’t give you enough accolades. We love the guy.”
Siclari compared Blumenthal to his predecessor, Joe Lieberman (attorney general turned U.S. senator). “He followed in the steps of Joe Lieberman. Joe Lieberman was a great attorney general. Joe Lieberman felt one of the problems in this country is there are too many politicians and not enough legislators. And that’s who Dick Blumenthal is,” said Siclari.
East Haven Mayor April Capone’s parents also waxed glowingly about Blumenthal. “He’s the greatest,” said dad, Frank Capone. The mayor, he said, was unable to attend.
Frank said he was a registered independent who voted primarily Republican until fairly recently when the Republicans became a “mudslinging” organization. “All Republicans do is obstruct and work against what’s good” for the people. “Instead of telling people the positive things about their candidates, they’re slinging mud and putting down their opponents.”
Mayor Capone’s mom, Judy, had one thing to say about Blumenthal: “We love him!”
Blumenthal still holds a healthy lead over his likely Republican opponent, World Wrestling Entertainment tycoon Linda McMahon, 54-37, according to the last Quinnipiac poll in mid-July.
The event in the back yard of Selma Frohn’s home was billed from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Blumenthal came at a fashionably late 5 p.m. About 75 Democrats, Republicans and independents were waiting. It was the fifth but not last stop for the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate that day.
Before he addressed his fans and potential fans, CTNewsJunkie grabbed him for a quick chat.
Asked for his take on Republican Rob Simmons officially being back in the U.S. Senate race, Blumenthal quipped, “I’m not going to be voting in the Republican primary.”
Will his strategy differ if he’s running against Simmons or McMahon?
“My strategy is to listen to the people of Connecticut,” he said.
Asked if he will also fight dirty as McMahon did when sending The New York Times a truncated video that seemed to show Blumenthal exaggerating his Marine service during the Vietnam War, the Democratic candidate said: “Whatever my opponent does in negative attacks is up to them.”
The controversy over his false claims that he served in Vietnam while in the Marines opened the door for Republicans who now view the attorney general as vulnerable.
Asked again if he will deploy negative campaign tactics, Blumenthal put the question to bed with: “I’m not going to speculate beyond what I said.”
The Flower Garden Chat
Standing in front of Frohn’s garden, Blumenthal was breezy and folksy. The sleeves of his button-down light blue shirt were rolled up. The sun was casually beating down on his thin frame.
“People are angry about what’s going on in Washington. They’re angry about the sweetheart deals to the pharmaceutical companies by both the Republicans and Democrats.”
Referring to McMahon reportedly pouring $50 million of her own loot into her campaign, he said, “We are going to have an election, not an auction. We’re going to be outspent but not outworked. I promise you I will be back to Middlebury” before and after the election.
When Frohn introduced Blumenthal she had said, “You hear he will go to everything. Well, he will. Let’s send this gentleman to be our voice in Washington.”
To that, the gentleman said, “There’s a joke about me, if there’s a garage door opening, I will be there.”
Lots of applause.
“Thank you for being here today. Thank you.”
Blumenthal promised to campaign like he was 10 points behind in the polls, instead of 17 points ahead.
“I’m working like the underdog,” Blumenthal said. “I don’t care what the polls say. I’m working like I’m 10 points behind and will continue to work like I’m 10 points behind until election day.”
Twelve-year-old Charlotte Garguilo from Seymour approached Blumenthal. After they exchanged words, she was asked why she came out to support him.
“I saw him in our Memorial Day parade in Seymour and I’m friends with him on Facebook,” she said. “I remember my mom telling me how he helped us when we were living in Shelton having a hard time.”
Her mother, Cathy Garguilo, echoed the praise many had for the gentleman. “This has nothing to do with political parties, and I work for a health insurance company,” she said, referring to Blumenthal’s lawsuits against the egregious practices of HMOs.
“He’s an awesome attorney general and I’ve always felt he should be the national attorney general,” she said. Her fear is who will take over if Blumenthal goes to Washington. “Can anybody fill his shoes?”