There’s no need for panic, but even the slightest hint that the U.S. Department of Defense is looking at $100 billion in budget cuts has candidates on both sides of the political aisle worried the Groton submarine base may become a target.
Instead it has become a political football for both parties.
Flanked by a group of former lawmakers and candidates Thursday, Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley said reading about the defense cuts, “frankly, it took my breath away.”
“I never imagined that in a single stroke when things as bad as they are particularly here in the New London, Groton area that we might again be under threat of losing 10,000 jobs in Connecticut from a single decision made 300 miles away,” Foley said. “We simply cannot let this happen.”
Cathy Cook, a former Republican state senator who was involved with saving the base in 2005, said she can’t believe she’s back at Nautilus Outlook park again for press conference about the possible base closing.
“I can’t believe we’re back here,” Cook said several times Thursday.
And while Republicans may have used the park adjacent to the submarine base and museum as the backdrop for their press conference don’t think the Democrats aren’t on board with saving it too.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Malloy said the one thing Connecticut has to do is get out in front of the issue and not politicize it.
“One is that we need to get out in front of the issue and take strong, proactive steps to defend the base,“ Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Malloy said. “The other is that our effort can’t be politicized or it risks losing credibility; we need to present a united, bipartisan front.”
“I was disappointed in the decision by a number of Republican candidates, including my opponent Tom Foley, to hold what appears to be a partisan press conference today on this issue,” Malloy said. “It’s good they’re standing up for the base, but I think we delegitimize the cause by turning it into what some have called ‘a political football.’”
Foley denied any attempt to turn the event into something political. He said any effort to save the base should be bipartisan.
That being said he appointed former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons to head up a team to fight any consideration of closing the base. When asked who else was on the team Foley said that’s up to Simmons.
Simmons talked about the qualified candidates and former elected officials surrounding him and Foley, but didn’t mention any Democrats. Asked if it would be a bipartisan effort, Simmons said it was before and Foley said it would be again.
Malloy suggested convening a meeting to discuss efforts to thwart base closure and said the meeting should be led by Connecticut’s Congressional delegation, governor, and others involved in the 2005 fight.
“I’d be happy to attend, and I assume Tom would as well,” Malloy said.
Foley said he hasn’t reached out to the all Democratic Congressional delegation, but would be doing so in the next couple of days.
Earlier in the day U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney sent out a joint press release warning against using the submarine base as a “political football.”
“Protecting SUBASE New London is not – and should never be – a political or partisan football,“ Lieberman and Courtney said. “Together, since 2007, we have secured more than $80 million in new military construction at the base, shoring up its infrastructure and value to the Navy and our submarine fleet. We will continue to work with the Navy and community and base leaders to strengthen SUBASE and secure its future.”