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U.S. SENATE: Linda McMahon talks health care, BRAC

As the U.S. Supreme Court was announcing its ruling that upholds the Affordable Health Care Act, Linda McMahon, the Republican endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate, was touring neighboring Darien Thursday morning, June 28, with Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.

After being briefed on the historic decision, Ms. McMahon made a stop at a weekly community coffee sponsored by The Weston Forum’s sister paper, The Darien Times, at the Sugar Bowl on the Post Road. She talked about the health care act ruling and other issues, such as defense jobs, and how she’ll get out the vote this year.

“It was disappointing,” Ms. McMahon said when asked about the court’s ruling on the health care act. “It was kind of a little bit of a bait and switch almost in that — I’m not talking about the Supreme Court, I’m talking about from the government — that it will bring down the cost of health care. It will increase the cost of health care. It puts a burden on our middle class, it puts a burden on our businesses and our seniors as well,” she said.

She said would vote to repeal the act if elected in November.

“Because we do need health care reform. We have to make sure that those who can’t afford it have it. But at the same time, the way our state mandates and our government mandates work today, the people have to buy insurance they don’t need. You know, you need to be able to buy the plan that suits you,” Ms. McMahon said.

“You need to be able to buy it across state lines, you need to be able to take it with you if you go from job to job or you leave the state,” she continued. “All of those things I think would be very helpful in health care reform, and we will bring the cost down if we have a market-based solution for competition. And we can do that in our country by having companies then bid for your insurance if you can choose the kind of insurance you want,” she said.

“But under this health care, Affordable Heath Care Act — which I believe is a bit of a misnomer — you are not going to be able to choose what you need. And there are going to be certain kinds of requirements from the government of what kind of insurance you must carry, is my understanding,” Ms. McMahon said.

BRAC

One of the U.S. Senate committees the candidate said she would like to serve on if elected is the Armed Services Committee, she told the group of residents and reporters at the Sugar Bowl.

But she would not say if she would vote for the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission process, known as BRAC.

Earlier in June, while visiting Electric Boat in Groton, Ms. McMahon told The Day of New London that BRAC is a way to find efficiencies in defense spending and that she would support it, depending on what cuts were proposed.

Her Republican opponent in the August primary, former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, pointed out to the media that this showed Ms. McMahon didn’t know how the process worked. BRAC is established to figure out what would close and then those findings are presented to Congress, which votes up or down on the whole proposal. Rarely does Congress get a chance to remove a suggestion from the commission’s proposal.

The next BRAC — if established by Congress — could come in 2015. Mr. Shays has vowed to oppose another commission.

While he was at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat shipyard a few weeks after Ms. McMahon, Mr. Shays said the next BRAC would almost certainly target the linchpin of Connecticut’s defense industry, the U.S. naval submarine base on the Thames River, according to CTMirror.org.

“Well, given that we have so much emphasis here in our state on defense budgets, I would very much like to serve on the Armed Forces Committee,” Ms. McMahon said in response to a question about which U.S. Senate committees she would want to be on. “Also on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, because that is such a big part of what we’re looking at today. Finance Committee, because I think that is in my wheelhouse as well.”

When asked if she has changed her opinion on BRAC that she had shared a week earlier, McMahon said her opinion is “how it sounds. We will fight to keep that base open tooth and nail.”

When pressed to answer if she would still want to see the BRAC process begin, she continued to say she would “fight to keep the base open and to keep those jobs at Electric Boat here in our state. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to prevent that from happening.”

After five times of being asked, yes or no, would she vote to start BRAC, she declined to directly answer before asking if anyone else had questions for her.

Campaign machine

But Ms. McMahon did talk extensively about how her campaign’s machine could help get her and other Republican’s elected in November — despite the fact that just two years ago she got the second fewest votes of any statewide Republican on the ballot.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work,” Ms. McMahon said when asked how President Obama can be defeated in November. “Here in Connecticut, he’s still popular. His favorable ratings are higher here. But I do believe what we’re seeing with Gov. Romney all across the country is he’s continuing to run neck and neck.”

Ms. McMahon then focused on how impressive her campaign’s ground game is going to be at getting out the vote.

“It’s going to be very important for us in the fall, and this cannot be reinforced enough … to get our people to the polls to vote,” she said. “We can’t sit home. We can’t wait for other people to do it. If you know someone who can’t get there, offer them a ride. We are going to build a ground game here in Connecticut.”

Ms. McMahon said her campaign is going to have vans and buses all over the state to get voters to the polls on Election Day. “We’ll have a great grassroots effort,” she said. “We’ve already made, from the offices we’ve set up in the state, over 50,000 individual telephone calls and knocked on over 30,000 doors.”

The Republican, who lost her last Senate bid in 2010, is leading in the polls for her party’s nomination over Mr. Shays, a Darien native.

After the primary

The primary is Tuesday, Aug. 14, but Ms. McMahon is already looking to November.

Ms. McMahon said her campaign is working to identify local areas where voters need rides or can’t get out of their houses. And they’ll be providing rides or absentee ballots.

“We now have six field offices set up,” she said. “We’ll have nine by the end of July all over the state. The goal is to have volunteers who will be doing … that grassroots effort. And on Election Day actually calling, picking people up, taking them to the polls to vote, maybe even give you a cup of coffee on the ride.”

One man, Walter Casey, asked Ms. McMahon what her campaign was going to do about the Connecticut cities that are “110% Democrat.”

“Like Chicago,” she said.

“We have a lot of Chicagos here,” Mr. Casey said.

“We’ll be doing our voter fraud programs along the way to try to educate people and have good spotters to prevent as much of that as we can,” Ms. McMahon said.

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