Well he had announced, before the primary, that if he did not win the convention endorsement in May he would not run in the primary. He probably announced that a time when he thought that he would not lose at the convention. But it turned out that he did lose at the convention to McMahon. He initially said that he was still going to be in the race. And then a day or two later, he had a press conference and said that he was getting out. Then, two or three weeks before the primary, he got back in. He’s had many television ads running up to the primary; he’s on television seemingly just as often as anybody else in the race, in the final two or three weeks. But he was not on television at all for a two-month period about May 25 to July 25. All of June, he was never on TV at all and not that many people were talking about him.
Is the new exposure helping?
He’s moving up in the polls. But in the most recent Quinnipiac poll on Monday, McMahon is still ahead of Simmons by twenty-two points. There is seven percent undecided, and that’s not a very big undecided. You have McMahon in the lead, Rob Simmons in second, and Peter Schiff, a nationally known investor, author, and Wall Street pundit, in third.
How has Schiff positioned himself?
Well, Schiff has a semi-large national following. So he has a lot of supporters outside of Connecticut, and that’s probably why he’s in third place in Connecticut. He has been running some negative ads about McMahon, showing footage of McMahon from her wrestling days. He is known among the CNBC crowd, and is on television on a regular basis making prognostications about the economy. But, he’s never really been involved in Connecticut politics at all. He didn’t have the start; he didn’t have a huge base of support because he’d never held public office in Connecticut. I think he was viewed more as a national figure as opposed to a Connecticut figure.
The Courant endorsed Simmons in the Republican Senate primary. What can you tell us about the paper’s approach to endorsements?
The good thing is I don’t get involved in any of the endorsements. They don’t ask me and I don’t ask them and so I stay out of it. But, as you can imagine, there’s a whole group of people all the way up to the publisher who get involved in the endorsements. I did not go to any of the editorial endorsement meetings. To my knowledge they did have separate meetings with McMahon and Schiff and Simmons.
How has McMahon handled the media as such a newcomer?
She has not had a traditional relationship with the media. In other words, she does not call general press conferences to answer questions from ten or twelve different reporters at the same time. She’s never done that, to my knowledge. She does go to editorial meetings, she does agree to interviews. But she doesn’t travel around the state and call press conferences. To my knowledge, she has never been at the state capitol for a press conference. It’s a traditional venue; would-be candidates come to the state capitol and hold press conferences on various issues. That’s just never happened.
Does Simmons have a more traditional relationship with the media?
Before the two months when he wasn’t campaigning, when the Blumenthal-Vietnam situation hit, Simmons came to the capitol and held a press conference about it outside the doors of the state capitol. That’s more of the traditional way of going about it.
Speaking of scandal, how has McMahon’s past as the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment played out?
There have definitely been stories about wrestling and some people in Connecticut don’t like wrestling and some people do. There have been stories about steroids and the death of some wrestlers, and McMahon is starting to address that in her commercials. She has an ad running with two middle class women in a car, talking about it and asking each other, ‘Well, what do you think about the wrestling?’ And by the time it’s over, they both like McMahon, as you can imagine in a McMahon commercial. It’s been an issue, but it certainly didn’t stop her from winning the convention endorsement, that’s for sure. But I would say by now, if you don’t know that Linda McMahon is involved in wrestling, then there’s probably no chance you’ll be voting in the primary or the election. Anyone who’s not aware that McMahon is the wrestling person who’s running for the U.S. Senate has not been paying attention.