Rob Simmons: 'I am running'

Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, Rob Simmons, right, and Peter Schiff wait outside prior to their debate at Trinity College in Hartford Tuesday.

Hartford - Rob Simmons acknowledged Tuesday that he is actively campaigning for the GOP nomination in the Connecticut Senate race, putting an end to questions about whether he's truly back in the hunt.

Simmons said the words "I am running for the United States Senate" during opening remarks at a debate held at Trinity College in Hartford.

Asked about the remark afterward, the former Republican congressman smiled and said, "I said that. I guess I did."

Simmons once led the race to fill the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, according to public opinion polls. But after Dodd announced plans to retire, former wrestling executive Linda McMahon's campaign began to generate momentum and McMahon, who has pledged to spend as much as $50 million of her own money on the race, managed to wrest the state Republican endorsement at the May convention from Simmons.

Simmons has since vacillated about whether he's in or out of the race. After announcing he had "curtailed" his campaign and released his staff in May, Simmons last weekend began running a TV advertisement to remind primary voters he's still on the Aug. 10 ballot. Simmons denied he was restarting his campaign and called the ad a public service announcement.

Besides Simmons and McMahon, Fairfield County money manager Peter Schiff is also seeking the party's nomination.

Schiff said he believes it was Simmons' strategy all along to leave his name on the ballot and eventually get back into the race.

"We'll see if it works," he said. "But he had a very well-financed opponent and it's difficult to combat her. I'm in the same predicament."

Even though Simmons' former staff are now working on other campaigns, he said he'll spend the remaining weeks traveling the state. His wife Heidi and daughter Jane are handling his arrangements.

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