This morning, Dick Blumenthal and Linda McMahon clashed in their second debate at the Continental Manor in Norwalk, Conn.
The first battle was over cap-and-trade — and it was protracted. Asked what she would do to lower carbon emissions, McMahon responded, “We need to balance our economic needs with our environmental needs. I am opposed to cap-and-trade, otherwise known as a national energy tax, which my opponent has supported, because it is just what I said, a national energy tax which will cost our middle-class families more money.”
Blumenthal answered by saying, “We need a national energy policy. . . . I think a national energy policy must make those polluters — whether it’s CO2 . . . pay for polluting our air. . . . We must continue the battle against those special interests that cause CO2 pollution.” He admitted, “Now, cap-and-trade is dead. Cap-and-trade died in the last Congress. I wrote a letter supporting a bill that included a cap-and-trade concept. . . . It is not a national energy tax. That claim is based on phony numbers from a right-wing group,” referring to the Heritage Foundation’s estimates of the bill’s effect on energy costs.
Later, McMahon, who spent more time on offense this time around, hit her opponent on his record as a state senator. “While he was in the state legislature he voted for, at that time, the largest tax increase in [state history],” she said. “We continue to pay for that today. Also during that six-year term, he voted to almost double spending. . . .We can’t afford Dick Blumenthal in Washington.”
Blumenthal took aim at McMahon’s tenure as CEO of WWE. “When WWE buys products overseas, manufactured abroad . . . it has deprived our workers of jobs. . . . My opponent as CEO [had a choice] whether she would [buy America]. I say ‘buy America.’ The federal government ought to be doing it. I feel strongly that we have a responsibility as Americans to fight for fairer trade policies.”
Then, McMahon fired a direct shot at Blumenthal’s trustworthiness after he mentioned an ongoing state investigation into WWE. Explaining that the investigation was a “routine audit,” McMahon noted that Blumenthal incorrectly labeled it a “criminal investigation.”
“I did not,” Blumenthal objected, before McMahon replied. “Oh yes, I believe you did. You said it was criminal and you said your office did not have authority [over it] and that it was a criminal investigation. . . . Maybe you just misspoke again, like the time when you talked about serving in Vietnam . . . it’s not your fault. You’ve been in government all your life.”
Blumenthal later clarified, “I am not involved in the investigation. The allegations against WWE in connection . . . are potentially criminal.”
Afterward, one of the panelists read to Blumenthal a letter written by a small business owner who was sued by his office. The businessman wrote that after such a lawsuit, “you’re out of business; you’re dead.”
Blumenthal replied, “You know, I have stood strong for small businesses and for jobs. I also have stood strong and fought for consumers when they were victims of wrongdoing,” before listing several businesses he had helped.
“I’ve not talked to a single small business that feels it’s a beneficiary of your lawsuits,” McMahon joked to chuckles from her side of the room.
That said, the candidates didn’t disagree on everything. Both agreed that the Times Square bomber should be tried in a military tribunal and that the U.S. should move to normalize relations with Cuba. “There are probably some in this room who would like to have a Cuban cigar,” McMahon said, referring to the mostly suit-and-tie crowd.
Nonetheless, the debate was as feisty as the first one on Monday. But this time, McMahon got a few more good punches into her opponent.