Nancy Wyman may be the state’s acting governor while Gov. Dannel Malloy is away in China, but she found time Thursday to go on the offensive for Chris Murphy’s U.S. Senate campaign outside the state Capitol.
Wyman, along with state Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo, staged a press conference Thursday in Hartford where they focused on Republican candidate Linda McMahon’s support of an amendment that allows employers to choose not to provide insurance coverage of contraception.
“Linda McMahon has spent so many millions of dollars on ads and commercials, so she has no problem worrying about getting her own health care,” Wyman said.
“She’s fighting to overturn the law that prevents insurance companies from raising rates on women simply because they’re women,” she said referring to the gender rating provision eliminated by the Affordable Care Act.
The press conference, organized by Murphy’s campaign, was the latest in an ongoing effort to use women’s health as a wedge issue in an election year that has seen the female demographic warm up to McMahon.
Two years ago when McMahon ran for Senate against former Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, women overwhelmingly supported Blumenthal. He maintained a 25 point lead over McMahon among women in a poll just before the election.
But things have changed. Early in the election cycle McMahon ran a series of ads focusing on her life story and family in an effort to soften her image. Women seem to have responded. In the most recent Quinnipiac poll, Murphy had just a four point lead among women.
Wyman said she wasn’t concerned about the poll numbers.
“I think the word is getting out now of Chris Murphy and I think when November comes, you will see the largest voting population—women—supporting the man who has really protected our rights and that is Chris Murphy,” she said.
DiNardo said the ads are likely the reason McMahon has been successful in courting women this time around.
“She had a summer of buying millions of dollars of TV ads misrepresenting Chris Murphy and trying to change her image into this nice lovable women. She never talks about how she made her millions. Her treatment in WWE was very abusive towards women,” DiNardo said.
The McMahon campaigns response to the press conference was two-fold. Corry Bliss, her campaign manager, blasted the news conference as a campaign stunt “direct from Fantasyland.”
“The facts are: Linda McMahon is a pro-choice candidate who supports access to contraception. Congressman Murphy’s continued insistence that Linda is anything other than pro-woman is ludicrous,” Bliss said.
Bliss said Murphy was hiding from the media while his surrogates launched baseless attacks against McMahon. Murphy’s spokeswoman, Taylor Lavender, said the three-term congressman was in Washington with the rest of the congressional delegation.
Meanwhile, Kathy McShane, chair of a group called Women for Linda, sent out a statement questioning whether Murphy has noticed that McMahon is a woman.
“I don’t know a lot about Congressman Murphy, but I know this: Congressman Murphy has never undergone a pap smear, a mammogram, or childbirth. Linda has,” McShane said.
McShane said she was insulted that Murphy would assume that abortion is the issue women care most about when many are more concerned about economic problems.
“To me, the focus on so-called ‘women’s issues’ implies that my reproductive organs render me incapable of caring about other issues so critical to our country,” she wrote.
An Aug. 28 Quinnipiac poll suggested voters are more concerned with the economy than women’s reproductive rights. Fifty-eight percent of likely voters said the economy would be an “extremely important” factor in their vote for president, meanwhile 31 percent said women’s reproductive health issues would be extremely important.
After the press conference Wyman said part of the problem is many younger women don’t understand the threat to their reproductive rights because they are too young to remember a time before they had those rights.
“We can’t afford to have Linda McMahon in the Senate. We need to have someone who understands when women’s rights really mean and Linda McMahon’s not going to be the one,” she said.