Linda McMahon and Chris Shays, the two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, responded to President Obama’s proposed middle-class tax cut today with statements that were similar in substance, but sharply different in tone.

In a statement apparently aimed at a general-election audience, McMahon emphasized her agreement with Obama on the need for a middle-class tax cut, while Shays reached to GOP primary voters by ripping the president for proposing an increase on the very rich.

“The only way to describe the President’s press conference today is insanity,” Shays said. “It makes no sense to raise taxes when the economy continues to falter. It is simply the wrong approach that will actually make our economy worse.”

Shays accused Obama of continuing to “play class warfare in an attempt to distract us from the bad economy. He has had three years to reverse our economic downturn and has failed to lead America in the right direction. He is focused on the wrong issues and continues to neglect the importance of economic growth.”

McMahon, who is leading Shays in polls for the GOP nomination, de-emphasized her disagreement with Obama on raising anyone’s taxes. Obama is expected to carry Connecticut.

“President Obama and I agree that Congress must extend the current tax rates for the middle class. Last week’s jobs numbers reminded us that no matter what career politicians may say, our economy is still sluggish and middle-class families are hurting,” McMahon said. “We should not be raising taxes on anyone right now.”

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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