The U.S. Senate campaign resumed Friday with a full day of public events by Democrat Chris Murphy and a stealthier schedule by Republican Linda McMahon, whose campaign resumed its pre-storm practice of declining to share more than a few details of McMahon’s whereabouts.
Both campaigns aired new ads, including an appeal by President Obama for Murphy. McMahon’s ad featured a clip of John F. Kennedy, much to the annoyance of his nephew, Ted Kennedy Jr. of Branford, who watched the spot on an iPad as he campaigned with Murphy.
“President Kennedy would not support the kind of economic and social policies as Linda McMahon. That’s what’s upsetting,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy and Murphy had burgers for lunch in New Haven at Louis’ Lunch, the place where the hamburger supposedly was invented — as was the burger joint tradition of gently harassing the clientele.
Murphy introduced himself to Paul Denegre, who manned the counter. In a shout heard by all, Denegre asked if he was the same Chris Murphy who left without paying his tab the day before.
Murphy said it wasn’t him.
“It was one of the duplicates from Linda McMahon’s ad,” Murphy said, a reference to an ad featuring Murphy clones.
Ninety minutes before sunrise Friday, Murphy stood with Kennedy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal outside the gate at Electric Boat in Groton, the start of a day that would take him to diners, shops and community centers along the shoreline until he reached an NAACP dinner in Stamford after sunset.
“If you do give me the chance to do this job, I’ll do you proud,” Murphy told an audience of seniors at an apartment complex in New Haven, where he was accompanied by U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro and Kennedy.
McMahon’s only public event was a speech to the MetroHartford Alliance that was publicized by the business group, not the McMahon campaign.
McMahon remained upbeat Friday that neither wind, nor rain nor her questions about sufficient ballots in New Haven would interfere with the final stretch of a U.S. Senate bid that effectively began nearly three years ago.
“That’s why you spend so much time in preparation,” McMahon told reporters following a luncheon address to local business leaders at The Hartford Club. “Tomorrow we are starting with our 72-hour blitz.”
Both candidates took three days off from overtly political events after Hurricane Sandy, though each did remain visible.
Murphy, a three-term congressman, toured storm damage with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the rest of the delegation. McMahon brought pizza to shelters and coffee to aid workers, all of which was shared with her followers on Twitter and Facebook.
“It really has been inspiring to see how this devastation has really brought out the best in people,” McMahon told the Metro Hartford Alliance.
Though the state’s two major utilities insist all polling places will have electric power on Election Day, McMahon acknowledged that many families — particularly those on the shoreline — have other things to focus on right now besides politics.
Still, she dismissed any speculation that the storm has interfered with her home-stretch efforts to reach more voters.
McMahon spokesman Todd Abrajano added that the campaign — unlike many other statewide Republican campaigns — has not conceded Connecticut’s urban centers to the Democrats, and has a strong grass-roots effort ready to work hard this weekend.
“We are actively doing get-out-the-vote efforts” in major cities, he said. “Are we going to win in these cities? Probably not, but I think we’re going to do much better than previous Republican candidates.”
The McMahon campaign went to court Thursday to put some pressure on election officials in one of Connecticut’s largest cities. But the action was withdrawn after the campaign’s lawyers met with New Haven officials.
The campaign sought an emergency order in Hartford Superior Court to require the New Haven city clerk and registrars of voters to certify that the city has ordered enough ballots for each precinct.
If city officials can’t certify that there are enough ballots, the campaign had asked that “the court institute security and counting measures in the event that unscannable, photocopied ballots are used; and purge the voter file of individuals that are not eligible to vote in the city.”
McMahon downplayed the court action Friday. “We are going to monitor polls all over the state,” she said. “We just want transparency.”
Murphy said he was unconcerned by the court filing, saying his campaign would not be distracted.
“We’re going to get out the vote,” he said.
Engaged in a tight race with what has been characterized more by attacks than policy debates, McMahon focused on the foundation of her economic plan in her talk with business leaders.
Connecticut’s struggles to pull out of the last recession dominated voters’ focus when McMahon launched her first bid for the Senate in 2009.
“This is 2012. It’s still jobs and the economy because neither has improved,” she said, citing recent unemployment stats showing about 170,000 state residents out of a job.
“We need to get these people back to work,” she said. “We need to make it possible for businesses to grow.”
McMahon ran through her much-touted jobs plan, highlighting her proposal to cut income tax rates for the middle class while maintaining the soon-to-expire reduced rates enacted under President Bush for the wealthy.
The former World Wrestling Entertainment chief executive officer hinted that she would be open to revisiting the Bush cuts in the future, but offered no specifics other than to say any change should wait until after the economy rebounds.
“Do I think we need real tax reform? Yes, but we have to get started growing the economy,” she said.