Richard Blumenthal has been ramping up his anti-Washington rhetoric lately talking about how Washington D.C. isn’t working.
“What I’m hearing as I go around the state and you hear it, people just think Washington isn’t working for them,” Blumenthal told hundreds of union officials Monday gathered at the Hartford Hilton for a convention.
“In Washington, as you well know, the special interests are still winning all too often,” Blumenthal, who is running for the U.S. Senate, continued. “They persuaded Washington to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts, which I opposed, to the investment bankers and we‘re still waiting for aid to small business.”
Blumenthal also talked about the “sweetheart deal” given to the pharmaceutical industry as part of the national health care reform law, which bars the federal government from negotiating Medicare prices.
Blumenthal also objects to the federal bailouts and stimulus package, which he didn’t think was adequately structured.
Collectively these positions put him at odds with President Barack Obama and Democratic members of Congress, including the man he hopes to succeed in the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd told a group of reporters Monday that there’s danger to the strategy Blumenthal seems to be deploying. It ignores the Democratic base of supporters, who Blumenthal needs to get out and vote for him in November.
“You’ve gotta get your base out. If your base feels it doesn’t make any difference if your crowd is in then you’re not going to get 80 percent turnout in Bridgeport,” Dodd said.
“You gotta make sure you energize your base. And energizing your base is to talk positively about the things your party and your candidates have been able to achieve,” he added.
If Dodd were running again, he said, for every dollar he spent on positive advertising, he would spend an equal amount on getting out the vote on election day.
Surprisingly Blumenthal disagreed with Dodd.
“I’m running against a lot in Washington,” Blumenthal said. “Washington isn’t listening. It isn’t working. It’s gridlocked. It’s paralyzed by partisan acrimony and Senator Dodd and I agree on many things. We also disagree on many things.”
“I have always been very independent. I’ve reached across the aisle in many of my most important fights,“ Blumenthal said. “That is my persona. That’s in my DNA and I’m going to remain a fighter for the people of Connecticut first, last, and always.”
No one was more surprised by this than Blumenthal’s Republican opponent, Linda McMahon.
“It’s astonishing how at ease he is making up stories and being untruthful,” Ed Patru, McMahon’s communications director, said Monday. “He worked in the supreme court, the senate, the white house and for The Washington Post – he’s absolutely been a DC insider.”
“As for his positions, he’s undergoing an extreme makeover. He’s gone being a 26-year big government liberal to copying Linda’s positions on virtually every issue,” Patru said. “I will not be surprised if next week he starts telling us he created over 500 jobs and built a billion-dollar business from the ground up.”
Dodd remained optimistic about Blumenthal’s campaign and candidacy, but talked about the financial odds he’s up against when McMahon has promised to spend between $40 and $50 million of her personal fortune on the campaign. She has already spent more than $20 million on the Republican primary.
“I think Dick Blumenthal is going to do very, very well,” Dodd said. But look he’s facing someone who spent more money on her primary campaign than “my last five senate campaigns combined.”
Dodd said Blumenthal dedicated 20 years of public service to the state and he thinks voters will consider that when they head to the polls in November.
President Barack Obama’s poll numbers have plummeted in the state according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll and possibly may be an indicator that voters are upset with the way Democrats are running things in Washington.
Connecticut voters approve 50 to 44 percent of the job Obama is doing, according to a July Quinnipiac University poll. That number is down from 53 to 42 percent on June 10 and his lowest score ever in the state. Independent voters disapprove 49 to 43 percent, down from a 48 to 46 percent split in June.
“I don’t think he’s taking enough credit for what he’s doing,” Dodd said of the president. “Frankly an awful lot of Democrats, typically, we’re more inclined to focus on what we haven’t gotten done, what we regret rather than what we have gotten done.”
Dodd said people need to understand what’s at stake. He said the crowd that wants to come to Washington wants to repeal the health care bill, repeal the financial reform bill, and stop unemployment benefits. “If that’s what you think America ought look like than go at it,” Dodd said. “But I don’t think most Americans want to see that happen.”
Later today union leaders will announce their support of candidates running in most statewide races. McMahon, Blumenthal’s opponent in the U.S. Senate race was invited to speak at the convention, but union officials say her campaign never responded to several letters, emails, and phone calls. McMahon’s campaign disputes the accuracy of the statement saying they went through everything including phone logs and were unable to find any communication from the union.