Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon declined to accept an invitation to debate U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, her Democratic opponent, but she sent two dozen volunteers to heckle the Congressman on Tuesday and to remind his supporters that she has a jobs plan.
As a room full of mostly Murphy supporters exited the Polish National Home in Hartford after hearing the Congressman talk about his jobs plan, which he released June 18, they were handed a copy of McMahon’s jobs plan, which she released in March.
One of the volunteers who refused to give their name said he had given out about three or four of them to the crowd.
Meanwhile, what ended up being more of an hour long Town Hall meeting where Murphy talked about his jobs plan and answered questions from the audience written on note cards, a group of young McMahon supporters scribbled down questions sent to them from McMahon’s campaign.
McMahon’s campaign spokesman declined to return phone calls, texts, or emails seeking comment regarding what seemed to be an orchestrated effort by the campaign.
Earlier in the day during a tour of a Manchester business, McMahon called Murphy’s call for a debate a “sophomoric stunt.” She said if Murphy wants to hold a Town Hall, “that’s a perfectly good thing for him to do.”
In his opening remarks, Murphy reminded the crowd that McMahon is running paid television advertisements criticizing something he said about his jobs plan.
“She criticized me for saying my jobs plan would be a work in progress because I would listen to people, employees, and business owners,” Murphy said. “I don’t apologize one second for listening to the people that I represent.”
He said that if McMahon won’t take suggestions from the people she represents, then she’s never going to represent the people.
“You’re electing a Senator to fight for you, but you’re also electing a Senator to listen,” Murphy said. “So I’m not going to back down for one second from the idea that while I’m going to stand by my jobs plan, I’m never going to stop listening. That’s what being Senator is all about.”
The room burst into applause.
Murphy said he’s willing to defend his jobs plan in an unscripted, open environment and he challenged McMahon to do the same.
And even though McMahon did not attend the debate Tuesday, her campaign emailed a list of questions they believed Murphy should have to answer regarding his attendance record and his vote on a national defense bill.
“Only someone who shows up for work 20 percent of the time would have the free time to organize and attend a debate with himself,” Corry Bliss, McMahon’s campaign manager, said in a press release.
Murphy dismissed the statement, which was sent out prior to the event.
“Clearly her campaign cared about this event because they sent a lot of people,” Murphy said. “What was missing was their candidate.”
Murphy said the McMahon campaign has to be worried they’re losing the message on jobs because their candidate is “uncomfortable with defending her plan.”
But Murphy’s attack on McMahon’s jobs plan is a risk the McMahon campaign can afford.
“She can hide behind her ads because she has millions of dollars,” Murphy said. “But this state is too smart to allow her to hide behind millions of dollars in TV ads.”
Murphy said he has a jobs plan and he also has a record, which speaks volumes about who he is as a legislator.
“McMahon’s consultant-written plan is really important to her because she doesn’t want to talk about her jobs record at the WWE,” Murphy said. “She doesn’t want to talk about the way she treated her workers there.”
The WWE released a statement Tuesday saying that Murphy, who “mischaracterized WWE and our family-friendly entertainment for political gain,” is now advertising during Monday Night Raw.
“For the second week in a row, Mr. Murphy’s campaign continues to run advertising in our programming with his new ad airing yesterday at 10:30 p.m. on USA during Monday Night Raw. While the past political rhetoric has been unjust, it pleases us to know that Mr. Murphy recognizes that WWE’s TV programming is a highly effective way to reach families and voters in Connecticut.”
Murphy said his campaign purchased time on USA and the cable network decides when to run the advertisement.
“I’m going to talk to people who watch wrestling,” Murphy said. “I think they deserve to know the real story behind the company that runs that business.”
Murphy’s campaign has called for eight debates, but McMahon’s campaign has only agreed to take part in four.