First McMahon Senate TV ad to run as candidate battles negatives
North Haven - A fixture on Connecticut TV sets during her first run for U.S. Senate, former wrestling executive Linda McMahon is reintroducing herself to voters with her first TV ad of the new campaign beginning today.
The 60-second spot, which was shown first to The Associated Press on Tuesday, features McMahon dressed in a bright blue top in her living room in Greenwich, talking about the struggles she has experienced throughout her life. A multimillionaire who spent $50 million of her own money on the 2010 campaign, the Republican speaks about growing up in North Carolina and how her family lived in low-income housing until "my dad built the little house that I grew up in."
"We didn't have a lot of expensive things, but boy we had a lot of love," McMahon says into the camera.
The ad is scheduled to run on broadcast TV stations statewide starting this morning. It features old family photos of McMahon with her father, her husband, Vince McMahon, and the couple's two children. It comes as McMahon works to reach female voters, forming this campaign's version of a "Women for Linda" initiative and holding "Conversations with Linda," chats McMahon has been holding in women's homes throughout the state. "We learn every night in these 'Conversations with Linda,' in living rooms with people who are meeting her in person for the first time, that they don't know Linda's story," said Erin Isaac, McMahon's communications director.
The campaign is hoping that McMahon's rags-to-riches story, which includes a bankruptcy and finding out she was pregnant the day before she and Vince McMahon graduated from college with no job or health insurance, will strike a chord with voters.
"We feel quite strongly that when people get to know Linda, get to learn more about her life story, and her plan to cut middle-class taxes, that more and more people will support her," said Corry Bliss, McMahon's campaign manager.
A March 22 Quinnipiac University Poll showed there continues to be a large number of voters with an unfavorable opinion of McMahon, especially women. Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said it's hard for candidates to reintroduce themselves once voters have already formed an opinion.
"It's hard to change that opinion," he said. "Obviously she recognizes she has high negatives, and she's trying to bring those negatives down, but it's a tough thing to do when people have made up the minds about you. It's not impossible, but it's a tough thing to do."
"Linda has been truly blessed to have lived the American dream and there are parts of her life story that every single person can relate to," he added.
McMahon, who lost to Democrat Richard Blumenthal in the 2010 Senate campaign, is the second candidate in the race to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman to begin running TV ads. On April 20, Republican attorney Peter Lumaj of Fairfield began running a 30-second spot on channels offered by two cable companies. It hasn't yet been distributed statewide.
In her spot, McMahon talks about having to go to work right away when she was a new mother "just to make ends meet" and how she and her husband "learned hard lessons" following the bankruptcy "but we had the opportunity to get back on our feet." She said she wants the people she meets on the campaign trail who are struggling financially to know she has "walked in their shoes" and will fight for them in the Senate.
But According to the Quinnipiac survey, 40 percent of registered voters said they have a favorable opinion of McMahon, 44 percent said unfavorable, while 15 percent said they hadn't heard enough about her to form an opinion. Among women, 36 percent have a favorable opinion of McMahon, 44 percent unfavorable and 18 percent haven't heard enough.
In contrast, McMahon's chief rival for the Republican endorsement at the May 18 GOP convention, former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, has a 47 percent favorability rating, with 13 percent having an unfavorable opinion of him and 38 percent saying they haven't heard enough to form an opinion. McMahon leads Shays, 51 to 42 percent, among GOP primary voters.
Bliss would not say how much was spent on the ad, how long the spot will run on TV or much the campaign plans to rely on TV advertising over the coming months, saying he did not want to reveal campaign strategy.
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