As a Republican governor from a blue state, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he understands what it takes to fight an uphill battle.
“Over the next two weeks what you’re going to hear is that Connecticut is a blue state and Connecticut shouldn’t vote for a Republican because a Republican from Connecticut would just cause gridlock, would just cause problems,” Christie told a standing-room-only crowd at the Pond House Grille in Glastonbury. “Let me tell you, you’ve got living proof in front of you. It works when you elect a Republican.”
Stumping for U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon in Glastonbury on Monday evening, Christie, said McMahon has the ability to “reach across the aisle to right-thinking Democrats” to do what’s best for the state of Connecticut.
“If you elect an independent thinker like Linda McMahon, she will bring it to the United States Senate,” Christie said to cheers from the crowd.
The Republican governor with a reputation for speaking his mind said McMahon has spent her entire life not worried about the “power of the party bosses, but the power of the ideas.” He said she will bring the same philosophy to the U.S. Senate.
As a former prosecutor, Christie said he often instructed young prosecutors to use the words of the defense in their closing arguments no matter how tempting it was to use their own words. In that same tradition, Christie said McMahon’s Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, “is one of those typical politicians . . . who has used each office he’s had as a stepping stone to the next one.”
“Let’s elect a doer and not somebody who wants a new title,” Christie said.
He called Murphy a “loyal, partisan Democrat,” who never reaches across the aisle.
“Do you really want to elect Nancy Pelosi’s butler?” Christie asked the crowd. “That’s what Chris Murphy is, he’s Nancy Pelosi’s butler. Mrs. Pelosi, how should I vote today?”
The narrative, which ignored the word Republican and mention of Gov. Mitt Romney, coincides with McMahon’s latest advertisements that encourage voters to split their ballots between her and President Barack Obama.
Ned Lamont, the Democrat who ran against U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman six years ago, attended McMahon’s rally in Stamford.
“They spent a lot of time pulling Murphy’s chain,” Lamont, who has endorsed Murphy, said. “There was no mention of Romney and she was described as an independent business woman.”
Lamont, who won the Democratic nomination in 2006 but lost the general election to Lieberman, said he knows it’s possible for an independent candidate to win the state. But he said his hunch is that McMahon is a “blank canvas.”
“I’m not sure she has a timeline for leaving Afghanistan and she’s probably a fan of deregulation and cutting business taxes, but there’s a learning curve on too many other issues,” Lamont said.
He said on those issues in which McMahon isn’t well-versed, she will probably follow her party’s leadership.
In introducing Christie, McMahon said she’s often asked if she resigned from World Wrestling Entertainment and decided to run for the U.S. Senate because she wanted a hobby.
“Look, if I wanted a hobby it would not be the United States Senate, because ladies and gentlemen, that is going to be the hardest work I’ve done in a long time,” she said. “But I’ve been challenged because I’ve not been in office before.”
She said as a CEO she had to build the strategic vision, but she also had to build the team within the company to carry out that vision. She said she had to sit down at the bargaining table to negotiate deals and not everyone got everything they wanted.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I think that we need more independent thinkers in Washington and I’m an independent thinker,” McMahon said.
She said the challenge over the next few weeks will be getting out the vote. She said that no vote can be taken for granted in such a tight race.
“I’m not taking my foot off the gas,” McMahon said.
McMahon may personally and financially support Romney, but she knows she won’t be able to win in Connecticut unless she gets support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
Former Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy, who attended the rally Monday, said he thought McMahon’s latest advertisement, which focuses not only on independents, but minority voters, is brilliant.
“Republicans in this state are always gnashing their teeth about ‘how do we engage minority voters,’” Healy said. “Clearly, she’s made in-roads with African-American voters and this message really is part of that.”
He said the reality in Connecticut is that “you need cross-over votes to get elected.”
He said the ad is just the most obvious attempt to win the votes of ticket-splitters and minorities, but McMahon has quietly been courting the African-American and Latino vote for more than a year.
“I’m happy she did it,” Healy said.
But a Christie visit to the Nutmeg state wouldn’t be complete without one dig at Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The two have traded jabs on MSNBC’s Morning Joe over the past two years.
The two handled their inherited state deficits differently. Christie refused to raise taxes and instead postponed a $3 billion payment to the pension fund. Malloy raised taxes $1.5 billion and got about $1.6 billion in concessions from state employees, at the same time as it increased funding to its pension fund.
Christie said when he was introduced by Republican Sen. Rob Kane in Waterbury he told the crowd Connecticut traded Malloy for Christie.
“I can’t let you screw my home state like that,” Christie quipped.
Malloy and his staff restrained itself all-day and declined to comment on Christie’s visit.