Stamford — Her three-year, nearly $100 million odyssey was at a disappointing end, but Linda McMahon was in no hurry to leave.
Ever on script, McMahon did what was expected of a losing candidate, placing a phone call to the winner of Connecticut’s most expensive Senate race, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy.
Then she addressed her supporters, publicly thanking them, her staff and her husband, Vince McMahon, who rolled his eyes. A bad boy in nearly every World Wrestling Entertainment story line, Vince stood off to the side, nearly off camera.
“Without them I could not be standing here on the stage tonight. And of course I’d like to thank my husband Vince, who stood behind me and beside me,” McMahon said. Noticing how far behind her, she added, “He’s very shy.”
She was composed. She smiled. She looked straight at the bank of TV cameras.
“This campaign, I look on with no regrets,” McMahon said. “I don’t think we left a stone unturned. I don’t think we would have done anything differently in this campaign. I really had an incredibly amazing campaign staff.”
McMahon said they all needed to watch the winners.
The crowded was restless.
“Listen to me, please. Everyone listen to me for a minute,” she said. “It is our responsibility to charge them, to challenge them, to make sure they hear what we say and to make sure they are doing what we need because they work for us.”
She was done.
But she didn’t leave.
McMahon stepped off the low stage in the Stamford Hilton’s Grand Ballroom and began working the rope line, signing autographs and shaking hands, trailed by her campaign’s camera crew.
Why were they recording?
Kate Duffy, a press aide shrugged and said, “Everybody’s got a job to do.”
In the audience, a man smiled and said, “For the next time.”
Offered lightly, the remark almost seemed cruel.
Duffy offered him no encouragement. If there are few second acts in American politics, that goes doubly so for someone who twice spent about $50 million on races for open Senate seats.
“I don’t know. I’m going to give some thought to as what I’m going to be doing,” McMahon said, stopping when she reached a gaggle of reporters. “I haven’t made any specific plans.”
She was pressed.
“I do not have any plans to run for office at this time,” McMahon said.
She was pressed again. Would she specifically rule out running against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2014?
“I’m not considering running for governor. I looked at that. We have some really good candidates to run for governor,” McMahon said. “That’s not an office that I’ll be seeking.”
The reporters peeled away. She reversed direction, moving back down the rope line toward fans who waited to take a picture with her, to gather a signature on an 8-by-12 color glossy.
Catherine Marx was one of the close supporters who waited in a VIP room off the main ballroom as the results came in.
“She showed incredible grace, intelligence and acceptance of what happened,” Marx said, glancing toward McMahon, still on the rope line. “It’s grace. Look at her.”
Two boys waited with publicity shots of Vince and Linda. No luck getting Vince’s signature, but Linda smiled and signed. She gave them all the time they wanted, then reversed direction again.
She was in no hurry to leave.