U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon has long positioned herself as a political independent but her latest TV ad showcasing Obama supporters who also back her is drawing harsh condemnation from her fellow Republicans.
The ad, which ran during Sunday\’s Patriots game, urges voters to support McMahon on the Independent Party line, saying it\’s OK for them to back her and the president she villifies.
\”It doesn\’t matter if you\’re a Democrat or a Republican,\’\’ says one of the people in the ad.
\”You don\’t always have to agree on everything,\” says another, \”but you agree on the most important things.\”
McMahon has embraced core beliefs of the GOP ideology — that tax cuts spur growth and that small government is better — while criticizing President Obama\’s economic policies and pledged to repeal his health care overhaul. In February, she called Obama\’s policy mandating that employers provide insurance coverage for contraception \”an all-out assault on the United States Constitution.\” McMahon and her husband Vince McMahon have also given $150,000 to Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney Super PAC.
Todd Abrajano, a McMahon spokesman, said that \”she is still supporting Mitt Romney.\”
But \”Linda is not going to win the race by getting every single Republican vote. She is going to need Republican and Independents and Democrats to win. We are going after all the votes.
The ad is \”good news for this campaign,\” because these Obama supporters have also decided to support McMahon.
As a Republican running in a state where Republican make up just 20 percent of the electorate, McMahon has to be pragmatic: she needs Democrats and unaffiliated voters to win. The ad isn\’t the first time she\’s set some distance between herself from her party. She was the first prominent Republican candidate to criticize presidential nominee Mitt Romney after his \”47 percent\” comments. She has repeatedly stressed her \”pro-choice\” beliefs, much to the consternation of social conservatives. And she has acknowledged giving money to Democrats in past elections.
To some members of the Republican base, the \”Vote for Me and Obama\” ad was the final insult and they lashed out on McMahon\’s Facebook page, with some demanding that she pull the spot.
On Facebook, the McMahon campaign responded. \”Linda actively supports Governor Romney. The ad is Democrats explaining that they are going to vote for Linda on the Independent party line,\’\’ McMahon\’s staff wrote. \”There are thousands of Democrats and Independents who are supporting Linda over Chris Murphy because she is a job creator not a professional politician.\”
Christopher Shays, the former congressman who lost the Republican Senate nomination to McMahon, said he is \”disappointed\” but not surprised by McMahon\’s strategy, including her decision to seek the Independent line several months ago.
\”It\’s unfortunate to see her running away from our presidential and vice-presidential candidates,\’\’ Shays said. \”I don\’t see how that helps our ticket or our candidates running for Congress or the state House and Senate.\”
State Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. declined to comment on McMahon\’s ad. \”I\’m working as hard as I can for the Republican ticket and I still believe Gov. Romney can win here in Connecticut,\’\’ he said.
Eli Zupnick, spokesman for McMahon\’s Democratic opponent, Chris Murphy, says the ad is one more example of McMahon trying to appear more moderate than she is. \”She is trying to hide her right-wing views\” from Connecticut voters, he said.
Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, McMahon\’s decision to go after Obama voters makes sense. \”Obviously if she\’s going to win, she needs people to do what people in the ad say they\’re going to do: vote for Obama and for her,\’\’ he said. \”The polls indicate President Obama is 10-12 points ahead in Connecticut.\”
Kondik compared McMahon\’s predicament to that of Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah, the only Democratic member of that state\’s congressional delegation. Matheson, who is locked in a tight race against Republican Mia Love, has gone out of his way to praise Romney, a strategy that makes sense in a red state where Romney is extremely popular.
\”When you\’re in hostile territory, you need to make a direct appeal to people to split their ticket,\’\’ Kondik said.