Gov. Dannel P. Malloy pushed his idling re-election campaign to full-throttle Wednesday night, aiming in one speech to take down the newly minted Republican nominee and lift up a Democratic base unsettled by a slow economic recovery and their candidate’s tepid poll numbers.
On the night after Tom Foley won the GOP nomination, Malloy skewered the Greenwich businessman as unwilling to share an economic vision and tone-deaf to the needs of working families. He spoke before an audience of partisans who paid between $185 and $2,000 to attend the 66th annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner.
“Let me be very clear. Tom Foley will not tell you what his plan is any detail,” Malloy said, amplifying criticism leveled at Foley during the GOP primary by John P. McKinney, who endorsed Foley earlier in the day. “This is a crafty fellow with a crafty message.”
On Thursday, Malloy will campaign at two diners in East Hartford, not far from Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies, the beneficiary of a economic assistance deal meant to stabilize its employment and deepen its roots in Connecticut.
In a night long-planned as the kickoff of a new phase in Malloy’s campaign, Govs. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Jack Markell of Delaware made preliminary speeches attacking Foley and supporting Malloy. Then Malloy took the stage at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, introduced by his running mate, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
“I have listened to this Republican debate over the last year in our state,” said Malloy, who had no opposition for the Democratic nomination. “I have heard precious few words extended to the quality of life, the progress and the possibility of our children.”
Earlier, his campaign released a TV commercial focused on a Foley press conference outside a failing paperboard factory in Sprague, where he scolded the local Democratic first selectwoman, Cathy Osten, and soon-to-be jobless workers, telling them they were wrong to malign the investment firm closing the factory.
Foley said the fault was Malloy’s, but they, too, shared the blame.
“We cannot have leaders like that,” Malloy said Wednesday night. Osten was in the audience.
Malloy said he was running on his record, including passage of two bills over the opposition of the GOP: the first state law mandating some private employers offer paid sick days, especially in the service economy; and a law that made Connecticut the first state to commit to a $10.10 minimum wage.
“No American should work 35 or 40 hours a week and live in poverty,” Malloy said. “It will not happen in Connecticut, and it is unacceptable.”
Malloy contrasted his record with Foley’s criticism of his administration and the state’s business climate.
“Tom Foley was standing on the sidelines hoping for rain on a sunny day,” he said. “He was in the cheap seats saying cheap things when we were working hard.”
Malloy suggested that Foley was breaking faith with parents and children for criticizing the gun controls passed in response to the Newtown school massacre as an unnecessary burden on gun owners.
“He said our gun laws are inconvenient for gun owners, but he won’t tell what the inconvenience is and what portion of the gun law he would roll back,” Malloy said. “It is too raw for me.”
Malloy then defined the gun control law as about public safety and protecting children, not inconveniencing gun owners. The law bans the sale of military-style weapons such as the AR-15 and large-capacity magazines.
“When we protect our children in their schools or on our streets, we are living up to our obligations, obligations which we should take solemnly,” he said. “And yet he calls it an inconvenience. I know what an inconvenience is, sir, and making children safer is not an inconvenience.”
Malloy said he will lay out a second-term agenda in coming weeks that will address what has been a difficult issue for him and his administration: education reform. His plan will “make schools better, teachers stronger and happier.”