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OP-ED | McRomney and Mittback: Guilt By Association

by Terry D. Cowgill | Sep 21, 2012 10:00am
(6) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Opinion

The tradition of running against an adversary who is not your actual opponent is alive and well in Connecticut. As I observed earlier this month, given the torpid state of Connecticut’s economy and the klutziness of its chief executive, state Republicans might do well to run in 2012 against unpopular Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, who isn’t even up for re-election for two more years.

But in the last couple of weeks, an attractive bogeyman has emerged for the other party — a target so alluring that, given his recent track record, he might very well be the gift that keeps on giving.

After pulling within seven points of Obama earlier this month, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has fallen behind by 21 points in Connecticut. And Romney’s performance over the last few weeks has been so abysmal that he is causing Senate candidate Linda McMahon to carve out a chasm between her and Romney big enough to throw Hulk Hogan through.

It’s bad enough to have to disavow the madness of Rep. Todd Akin, whose loopy understanding of the female anatomy got him in trouble this summer when he suggested a woman’s reproductive functions shut down during a “legitimate rape.”

But to to disown the controversial comments of the presidential standard bearer of your own party is particularly painful. After all, Romney’s name will be at the top of the ballot and recent polls have suggested that McMahon, despite recent missteps, has nonetheless drawn even with Democrat Chris Murphy, who himself has come under withering attack for a series of personal financial problems.

The problem is that in her attempt to distance herself from Romney, McMahon has exposed herself as something of a hypocrite. A year ago, McMahon told WTNH’s Mark Davis that she would “like to see everyone pay their fair share. Forty-seven percent of the people today don’t pay any taxes, so let’s have a fair tax code where everybody pays their taxes.”

McMahon’s explanation that she was merely citing a fact doesn’t cut it. For one thing, the statistic only holds up for those not paying federal income taxes — not “any taxes,” as McMahon put it. Like Romney, she also suggested the 47 %, many of whom are veterans or lower-income seniors on Social Security, weren’t paying their fair share. This is political poison for seniors or independent Baby Boomers who struggle to take care of elderly parents.

So what is a Connecticut Republican to do? Ask Andrew Roraback, a moderate career state legislator running for Congress in the highly competitive 5th District. His Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Esty, herself a moderate who has veered left to win back labor union support, has been smacking Roraback around for Romney’s comments.

When Roraback did not respond to her first volley, Esty put out a second press release. Evidently, she has taken umbrage not at Roraback’s embrace of the 47 % remark (he has not embraced it), but at his failure to publicly condemn it.

Inasmuch as they “share a ticket,” Esty spokesman Jeb Fain said, “Sen. Roraback needs to let voters know whether he also shares Mr. Romney’s views that he shouldn’t worry about them if they are seniors or veterans, working or middle class.”

What nonsense. Ask anyone who knows Roraback whether he cares about the middle class and the less fortunate. He couldn’t have survived for 12 years as a legislator in Connecticut’s 30th Senate district, which includes Torrington and Winsted, with a go-it-alone attitude toward those who are down on their luck.

But hey, politics is played like a tennis match. Hit the ball hard and hope it lands barely in the court. If the ball is returned, be ready to put it away at the net.

“It’s become increasingly clear that Elizabeth Esty wishes she was running against Mitt Romney,” Roraback replied. “But she’s not running against Mitt Romney, she’s running against Andrew Roraback.”

Yes, and two can play at that tennis game. Now maybe Roraback can run against Gov. Malloy, whose dismal Connecticut approval ratings rival those of Romney.

I can see Roraback’s return of service: “Elizabeth Esty and Dannel Malloy shared a ticket. And Mr. Esty is in Malloy’s cabinet. Ms. Esty needs to let voters know whether she also shares Dannel Malloy’s views that we shouldn’t worry about a $1.8 billion tax increase that has harmed family finances and increased unemployment in our state.”

Advantage Roraback.

Terry Cowgill blogs at, is the editor of and was an award-winning editor and senior writer for The Lakeville Journal Company. He can be found on Twitter @terrycowgill.

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(6) Comments

posted by: Todd Peterson | September 22, 2012  9:40pm

As to the Esty situation, she is completely clueless.

After defeating the Corrupticrat Donovan I thought at least if she managed to win the general election we’d have a competent Dem who could think for herself.  It appears that she may not have any backbone after all.  She has turned into a talking-points spouting drone programmed by John Olsen.  Liz, maybe you can tell us who you really are, what you actually support and why you think you’re the person for the job.  Feigning the vapors because your opponent has the temerity to, gasp!, support his party’s nominee for President?! So far she looks like a kept woman.  Very disappointing…

I am a big supporter of Andrew.  So far Andrew is being Andrew on the stump, which is unfortunately a rare thing in this day and age.

These Courant/UConn polls are oversampling Democrats and undersampling Independents in a big way.  I’m not buying into them in any way. 

Unfortunately I think McMahon showed a lack of depth that she’s been trying to get out from under.  Not a good move, Linda…

posted by: Terry D. Cowgill | September 24, 2012  12:13pm

Terry D. Cowgill

Todd, I think what is happening to Esty is precisely what I suggested in the column: she is overcompensating in an effort to win back support of the Donovanites who did not trust her moderate positions on labor issues. So, with the nomination in hand, she is ramping up the left-wing rhetoric.

As a result, she sounds inauthentic. Much like Mitt Romney the moderate tying to sound like a government-hating right-winger, saying stuff you don’t really believe can make you sound like a robot. Let’s see if Esty, too, starts making gaffes after ingesting this reverse truth serum.

posted by: Todd Peterson | September 25, 2012  4:53pm

We’re on the same page here, Terry.  The unaffiliated voter is going to decide this race.  If Esty continues to track hard left I think she’ll be swimming against the current. 

As to your assessment of Andrew you’re dead on the mark.  He is a very thoughtful man.  Even if you disagree on some issues with him, you know he’s not winging it or reflexively going with the party line.  I’m hoping that people see him as genuine particularly when Esty is absolutely contrived.

posted by: redman | September 28, 2012  9:19pm

You continue the democrat stupidity of obsufaction. 47% do not pay federal income tax. That is a problem when you expect a small number of people to pay a huge percentage of the federal budget. So are you stupid or intentionally misleading people?

posted by: Terry D. Cowgill | September 29, 2012  10:30am

Terry D. Cowgill

Redman, this column deals with political strategy, not a policy debate. I do agree that we have a culture of increasing dependency and that fewer and fewer taxpayers are footing the bill. What would you do about that?

posted by: SalRomano | September 29, 2012  2:45pm

redman:  You sound like a writer for the Democratic Bational Committee—who give the deceiving—“the rich don’t pay enough” continual recording theme == closing your eyes to the fact that Pres. Barack Obama is spending this country to fiscal oblivion with $5.2 trillion dollars of deficit budget spending—in only 46 months.  Obama’s wild spending, by design, can’t be justified by “the rich don’t pay enough” White House propaganda.  Obama always blames others for his continual drive to bankrupt this country.  “Blame it on the rich!”  The rich couldn’t pay enough to match Obama’s designed-insane spending—that is burying our country. Obama’s leading billionaires
are getting their money’s worth out of Obama—the disastrous big spender, who needs another term to continue to spend us to oblivion.