Hartford - Democratic civic and community leaders here expressed outrage Friday over a controversial campaign ad by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon that urges Democrats and inner-city minorities to vote for both her and President Obama.
"If you support President Obama like we do, it is not OK to vote for Linda McMahon," Shawn Wooden, president of Hartford's city council, said at a news conference outside City Hall.
Wooden and other pro-Obama leaders in Hartford's black and Latino communities said the ad is "disingenuous" because many of McMahon's policy positions run counter to Obama's. McMahon wishes to repeal the new health care law known as "Obamacare" and opposes the president's plan to end the Bush-era tax cuts for high-earners.
They recounted how McMahon called Obama "a total failure" in a campaign letter and how she and her husband, Vince McMahon, gave $150,000 to Restore our Future, a Super PAC that favors Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
"I have never seen such a shameless attempt to sway inner-city voters," said Carmen Sierra, a Latino community organizer.
Hartford's City Treasurer, Adam Cloud, denounced the ad for "perpetrating the myth that minority voters are somehow misinformed, and might be so misinformed as to believe that just because we see minority voters saying they're going to vote for Linda McMahon and Barack Obama, that we're actually going to do that."
McMahon's name will appear on both the Republican and Independent party lines on the Nov. 6 ballot. Her opponent in the Senate race, Democrat Chris Murphy, will have a second ballot line under the Connecticut Working Families Party.
In response to Friday's news conference, McMahon's campaign spokesman, Todd Abrajano, accused Murphy of "trotting out his campaign surrogates." Murphy is the current 5th Congressional District representative.
"Clearly Congressman Murphy is worried about the fact that thousands of Democrats are going to be voting for Linda McMahon on Election Day because she is the only candidate who has a plan to put people back to work and provide real relief to the middle class," Abrajano said in a statement.
The two versions of McMahon's ad began airing last weekend. There soon followed an initial wave of backlash by some Republican voters who were irked by what they viewed as the ad's pro-Obama language.
"Please tell me what I'm missing here," Rob Simmons of Stonington, the former 2nd Congressional District representative, wrote in an email to fellow Republicans that was later obtained by The Day.
Simmons lost to McMahon in the 2010 Republican primary for U.S. Senate but recently campaigned with her this year.
"I do not recall ever asking my supporters to support a Democrat presidential candidate (Gore & Kerry) even when the odds were against George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 in Connecticut," Simmons wrote.
In the 60-second, Internet-only version of the ad, three black voters and one white female tell how they will vote for Obama and then McMahon using the Independent Party's ballot line.
"She's the only candidate who actually came into the inner city, sat down with me, wanted to know my opinions and my views," says a black woman in the ad. The white woman says: "We do need job creators in the Senate who will work with President Obama."
In the 30-second television version, one of the black voters is absent and an older white male military veteran joins the mix. "She deserves my vote and other Democrats like me," the veteran says.