(UPDATED – 8:38 p.m.) EAST HARTFORD — Republican U.S. Senate nominee Linda McMahon visited a commercial cleaning service contractor on Thursday where she accepted the endorsement of a small business organization that opposes any increase in the federal minimum wage. She also didn’t rule out reducing the minimum wage to help businesses during difficult economic times before abruptly ending a Q&A with reporters.
McMahon accepted the endorsement of the organization, the National Federation of Independent Business or NFIB, during her visit in to Horizon Services Co., and she was asked several questions regarding her position on the minimum wage.
During the Q&A, Day of New London reporter Ted Mann asked, “Should it be reduced now? Since businesses are struggling, as you all described? Would you argue for reducing the minimum wage now?”
McMahon responded without a direct answer, which suggested that her door may have been open to reducing the minimum wage standard. McMahon said, “We have got minimum wages in states, we have got minimum wages in the (federal) government, and I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them. I think we should get input from our business community. We should listen to our small business operators and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it’s impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions.” Read the full transcript of the exchange here. Read Mann’s story here.
The McMahon campaign has since sent an email blast suggesting that CTNewsJunkie and others got the story wrong, and the campaign included a short segment of video that does not include the portion during which Mann asked about reducing the minimum wage and McMahon failed to provide a definitive answer. However, CTNewsJunkie verified the exchange with its own audio recording, directly below, in addition to the video further below.
“What I think what we have to look at whenever we’re talking about minimum wage increases is where is our economy is at this particular point, and how’s that going to impact the businesses that are going to have to pay those wages?” McMahon said.
Asked for clarification on just how she perceives the minimum wage after the news conference, McMahon said she does not endorse getting rid of the minimum wage, but she believes any proposed or scheduled increases should be reviewed.
“Don’t take away this morning that I’m saying that we should scrap minimum wage,” she said. “That is clearly not my position.”
Pressed further, McMahon admitted she did not know the current minimum wage or if anyone at World Wrestling Entertainment is earning that amount. Connecticut’s minimum wage is $8.25 an hour and the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Asked if she thinks the current minimum wage is appropriate or if it should be raised, McMahon said, “you know what guys? I’m just not going to comment any more.”
Hours later and after sending the email blast, McMahon campaign communications director Ed Patru offered the following statement:
“I think a good deal of creative interpretation is needed for anybody to take away from these quotes that she is in favor of reducing the minimum wage,” Patru wrote. “She is clearly saying that we ought to review whether this is in fact the time to raise the rate. It’s impossible to accept the spin that a handful of reporters are putting on this without changing the definition of the word ‘review.’ That word is not one and the same with ‘cut’. Noah Webster, I’m certain, is turning over in his grave today. Linda is opposed to lowering the minimum wage, and she believes Washington absolutely needs to stop the practice of passing multi-billion dollear bills without review and debate. She’s not a politician. She believes we should review bills before they are passed.”
The spokeswoman for the campaign of McMahon’s Democratic opponent, Richard Blumenthal, wasn’t surprised by McMahon’s initial response to reporters’ questions.
“Linda McMahon laid off ten percent of her workers and takes home $46 million a year, so it’s no surprise she’s thinking about lowering the minimum wage,” Blumenthal spokeswoman Maura Downes said Thursday. “Connecticut’s families are hurting and Linda McMahon puts her own profits ahead of people of Connecticut. That’s not the kind of U.S. Senator the people of Connecticut need.”
During the news conference earlier in Horizon’s warehouse, McMahon said minimum wage increases have consequences.
“It’s the fella whose running the retail store that’s hiring kids to wrap presents at Christmas time. It’s all the way down to that level and how can you afford all of those different services,” McMahon said. “All of the business plans that are being put forward in government today – we need to review and understand what those consequences are.”
As for the endorsement, McMahon said she did not seek it. However, she said, “I’m very happy it came forward.”
McMahon has previously said she wasn’t actively seeking endorsements from any groups and wouldn’t accept any PAC or special-interest money. McMahon has accepted donations of under $100 from individuals, but she has spent more than $25 million of her own money on the campaign.
Thursday’s endorsement was made by the NFIB’s political action committee.
“It is not accompanied by a contribution,” McMahon said. “One was not sought nor offered and I will maintain what I said from the beginning of the campaign that I will not accept PAC or special interest money.”
In her prepared remarks, McMahon stuck to her talking points.
“Here in Connecticut the two senatorial candidates could not be more different,” McMahon said. “The choice is clear. We have one candidate, Richard Blumenthal, who has been in government and politics all of his career. He’s never created a job. He’s been in government all of his life. I have been in business all of my life.”
“How are we going to get government’s hand out of our pocket so we can grow, create jobs, and move our economy forward?” McMahon said.