Murphy on defense

Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon has managed to keep her Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, on the defensive since the Aug. 14 primary, in the process keeping the campaign where it best suits her - focused on relatively trivial matters and void of serious policy discussions.

It seems poor Mr. Murphy and his campaign staff doesn't know what has hit them. They were blissfully unaware of the clubs they had left lying around for the McMahon campaign and were not prepared to well defend themselves when the bludgeoning began.

First there was the McMahon campaign attack immediately after the primary concerning Rep. Murphy's votes against defense spending bills that included money for submarine construction. Murphy has said he voted against the bills because they left an open-ended timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Explain that to defense workers. The fact Rep. Murphy supported the final defense budget this year, continuing the construction of two Virginia-class attack subs annually, was lost in the shuffle.

Then came the attack ads noting Rep. Murphy missed about 80 percent of his House committee meetings. Various news organizations verified the accuracy of the charge. That Murphy, a member of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, skipped hearings on the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and the AIG bailout, for example, does not look good.

Rep. Murphy gamely pointed to his 97 percent voting attendance record, and surrogates noted that missing committee meetings is common in Congress, but the wounds remain.

Now arrives "news" that Rep. Murphy faced foreclosure proceedings on his former Cheshire house in March 2007, two months after entering Congress. And in December 2003 he had received an eviction notice for falling behind on rent. The congressman's explanation - he forgot to pay the bills, wasn't a great excuse, particularly coming from a member of the Financial Services Committee. He did pay the debt.

To milk the issue, the McMahon campaign manager (not too political, eh?) filed what appears to be a bogus ethic's complaint charging favoritism over Rep. Murphy's subsequent ability to get a second mortgage.

It appears Rep. Murphy wasn't ready for big league hardball. He should have been and he had better step it up, or he may find himself still on defense come Election Day.

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