The Corner

Hard Feelings in Hartford

Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R., Conn.) tells National Review Online that he does not think that Linda McMahon can win in the Nutmeg State. “No, I don’t think so at all,” he tells us. And if McMahon asks Simmons for help on the trail, he says he’ll say he is “preoccupied.”

On Tuesday, Simmons suspended his Senate campaign, days after McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, won the GOP endorsement at a state convention. Simmons said McMahon won the endorsement for one reason: “Money.”

Simmons, a decorated Vietnam veteran, is convinced that he would have been the better GOP candidate for the Republicans to put up against Democrat Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s attorney general. In recent weeks, Blumenthal has come under fire for making misleading statements about his military service. “He blinked when I challenged him and issued an apology,” Simmons says. “It is an issue of character. He has every reason to be proud of the service he has done, so to embellish it to get support from veterans is just wrong.”

McMahon’s biggest hurdle, he says, is her WWE past. “While she was there, they had a mentally-handicapped character, Eugene, who they thought was humorous. I find that whole issue, and how it was handled by [McMahon], severely disappointing.” While Blumenthal has “exposed a character flaw,” McMahon has “countless entertainment products that she’ll have to defend, especially when Democrats make them known to the public in coming months.”

“There are a lot of new people in the party who forget about Brook Johnson,” Simmons adds, referencing the Greenwich millionaire who lost his challenge to Sen. Chris Dodd (D., Conn.) in 1992. “Johnson beat Chris Burnham, a great state representative, in the primary, because Burnham didn’t run a single television commercial. Then Johnson went on to lose to Dodd.”

So will Simmons support Peter Schiff, the Republican financier who’s still trying to challenge McMahon? “He’s an attractive, smart guy,” Simmons says, sounding a bit coy. “He is much smarter on the economy.”

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