Malloy defends campaign trip to New Hampshire for Obama

HartfordGov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday defended his weekend trip to New Hampshire to campaign for President Obama and offered a preview of possible themes in his speech next week at the Democratic National Convention.

“This is going to be a close election,” Malloy told reporters in the Capitol complex Monday morning. “I’m not going to shy away from doing everything in my power to make sure people understand what’s at stake.”

Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. criticized Malloy for making a political trip involving “thousands of dollars” in expenses for transportation and state police overtime pay.

An administration official disputed Labriola’s cost estimate but did not provide a different figure.

Malloy was quoted by an online New Hampshire publication, the Sea Coast Media Group, as telling an audience of about 100 people Saturday at a Democratic fundraiser in Hampton, N.H., that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would “take apart America as we know it” if they win in November.

Malloy went on to call the Romney-Ryan ticket “worse than Barry Goldwater’s would have been for the United States,” and declared that “Anyone who votes for the Romney-Ryan team is out of their mind.”

Labriola complained from Tampa, Fla., where he is attending the Republican National Convention, about Malloy’s campaigning via news release.

“It’s hard to imagine that Governor Malloy and his ‘we have to tax you to save you’ message was warmly received in New Hampshire, one of the few states without an income tax,” Labriola said a statement. “He should consider ‘staycationing’ in Connecticut.”

Malloy is now scheduled to speak at 6 p.m. on Sept. 5 at the Democratic National Convention, which runs Sept. 4-6. The Republican convention is to conclude Thursday.

Malloy told reporters he was “tickled pink” to be chosen to speak and is not disappointed that his remarks won’t be broadcast on primetime television.

He said he is still working on a convention speech but touched on a few possible themes. He called Romney’s choice of a vice president “the gift that keeps on giving,” as Ryan’s budget plan and policy prescriptions contain initiatives that Malloy feels are unpopular: transitioning Medicare into a voucher system, cutting Head Start funds, repealing the national health care law and cutting $170 billion from the Pell Grant program for college students.

“If that’s what you want in America — if you want to force senior citizens into poverty, if you want to take a gigantic share of their social security benefits and dedicate it to their private purchase of an insurance policy, then that’s your ticket,” Malloy said.

Malloy claimed that other governors — including Republicans — share his fears that the Ryan plan, if enacted, “would be a massive shift of obligations to states … at a time that we can’t handle that kind of shift.”

“In private conversations, my Republican colleagues don’t like the Ryan budget,” he said. “Trust me. At meetings that I’ve been at, there’s a lot of consternation amongst all governors across party lines.”

Malloy said he is ready to do more campaigning for the president.

“I’ll do whatever the Obama people ask,” he said. “I have my own busy fall as you know, but if they ask, I’ll help out.”

Malloy also made another apparent joke regarding the weight of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is to give the keynote address tonight at the Republicans’ national convention.

A reporter asked if he planned to watch Christie’s speech.

“That’s a big watch,” Malloy replied, pausing for a moment as reporters and onlookers laughed.

He then added: “I mean, it’s going to be a long speech.”

j.reindl@theday.com

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