Connecticut's Knock-Down, Drag-Out Senate Race

In the battle for control of Congress, Republicans would need to pick up 10 seats to take back the Senate. The seat now held by retiring Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd is up for grabs.

That brought President Obama to the Constitution State Thursday to campaign for Richard Blumenthal, CBS News Anchor Katie Couric reports.

Mr. Obama even referenced Blumenthal's Republican opponent Linda McMahon - former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment - in his speech at the event.

"I can see how somebody who's been in professional wrestling would think they're right at home at the United States Senate if they were watching some of the behavior that's going on," the president said.

The latest polling finds Blumenthal's lead over McMahon has shrunk to just 6 points.

Couric asks Blumenthal and McMahon:

What's Wrong With Washington?
Biggest Challenge Facing America?
Biggest Challenge Facing Connecticut?

(Scroll down to watch the full report)

Introduced before a Connecticut radio station interview, the disc jockey brought McMahon on the same way a ringside announcer would at a wrestling match.

"Ladies and gentleman, no holds barred, Linda McMahon," the WPLR-FM DJ said.

In the red corner, McMahon, a political novice, managed to slam her competition in the GOP primary.

In the blue corner, Blumenthal has been Connecticut's attorney general for nearly 20 years. But in this anti-"business as usual" environment, his experience could be a liability.

Special Section: Campaign 2010

"I'm trying to move away from the status quo and the good old boy network kind of thing in Washington," Connecticut resident Jim Midolo said.

But Blumenthal isn't concerned that he'll be seen as a career politician.

"People in Connecticut know me," said Blumenthal. "They know that I stood up to Big Tobacco, the utilities, all of those big and powerful interests that right now have gridlocked and paralyzed Washington."

CBS News recently spent time with McMahon in Branford, a quaint town in south-central Connecticut, and with Blumenthal while campaigning in Stamford. Connecticut is traditionally a blue state, but it's known for its independence. The number of unaffiliated voters outweighs registered members of either party. Now these two scrappy fighters are going head-to-head for those votes, and McMahon's business background is seen as a boon to some voters.

"The climate in Connecticut, jobs is a big issue," said resident John Finkle. "I think she knows how to create jobs."

McMahon amassed a fortune at the helm of the WWE and has so far spent more than $20 million of her own money dwarfing her competitor.

"I am very annoyed that Linda McMahon is spending that money, all that kind of money, and is trying to buy this election," resident Shirley Fishbach said.

But McMahon isn't ashamed of filling her war chest with her wealth.

"I'm happy that I can fund the race myself, and it's money I've earned," McMahon said.

It's an advantage for McMahon that Blumenthal doesn't deny.

"No question that we're going to be outspent, but we're not going to be outworked, and we're going to have an election, not an auction," Blumenthal said.

Meanwhile, McMahon criticized Blumenthal for accepting money from special interest groups after declaring in past races that he wouldn't.

"I can't fight this election and this conservatism campaign with one arm tied behind my back," Blumenthal said.

More on Connecticut Senate Race

Blumenthal's Lead Over McMahon Shrinks
Linda McMahon: Focus on Economy, Not WWE Past
Ex-WWE Exec Linda McMahon Wins CT Senate Primary
McMahon Ad Defends Wrestling; Opponents Attack
Dems Continue to Slam Linda McMahon's WWE Past
Linda McMahon Airs Ad Featuring WWE History
Wrestler's Widow Suing WWE, Linda McMahon
Conn. AG Blumenthal Defends Vietnam-era Record

Both candidates are vulnerable. One because of the career she's had. The other for the military experience he never had.

"We have learned something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam," Blumenthal said.

Those words set off an online frenzy and a front page article in The New York Times, all pointing out that while Blumenthal was in the Marine Corps Reserves during Vietnam he never actually served there.

"I'm a Marine veteran," said resident Alex Torello. "I'm very upset with what Mr. Blumenthal has done."

Blumenthal said his mistake has been overblown.

"On a number of occasions - a very small number compared to the hundreds of times that I spoke about my military service record - I inaccurately described it," said Blumenthal. "It was unintentional. That's no excuse. I regret it. I take full responsibility, and I have apologized."

The McMahon campaign has made hay with Blumenthal's gaffe.



But the Democrats have been hitting back by circulating video clips of some of the roughest and raunchiest moments from the WWE, many of them featuring McMahon's controversial business partner, Vince McMahon.

"He's colorful," Linda McMahon said.

He's been dogged by accusations of promoting steroid use, has admitted to affairs in the past and his yacht is called Sexy Bitch.

Is Washington ready for Vince McMahon?

"Well, Vince isn't running for the Senate," said Linda McMahon. "I am."

She's running and gaining ground, closing what was a 25-point gap in the polls last May to just a 6-point spread today.

"We've always said that the polls would tighten and that it would be a tough, tight, competitive race," said Blumenthal. "But we're going to be talking about my standing up for people and doing it here and in Washington, and I think that is what people will hear and ultimately carry the day."
  • Katie Couric

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter