Archive for the ‘Richard Blumenthal’ Category

Senator-elect Blumenthal Talks Taking on Steroids
November 5, 2010

Our expectation for Face the State this weekend was to have both the new Governor-elect and Senator-elect as our guests.    Booking the latter was easy, but as you are well aware, there is no Governor-elect right now.  

Normally we tape the show on Thursday nights, but obviously we had to postpone taping because of the unsettled status of the governor’s race.   We pushed taping off until Friday.  We’re told there won’t be a resolution before Sunday morning, so Face the State shouldn’t have any dated information.   If there is a big change, we’ll do the show live. 

This is the third time this year Dick Blumenthal has appeared on “Face the State.”  In January he appeared as a freshly announced senate candidate.   In July, as an embattled candidate after attacks by his opponents.  Now he is here as Senator-elect. 

During the taping we talked about the bitterly fought race, I asked him about the lowest point of the campaign and his opponent Linda McMahon.   Interestingly, Blumenthal told me once in the senate,  one of his priorities he will work on cracking down on steroid abuse, and he explains why.

I’m also joined this Sunday by Mark Pazniokas of the Connecticut Mirror, with Duby McDowell and Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie providing analysis of the Governor’s race.  We also talk about 2012, and a potential three way senate race between  Linda McMahon, Ted Kennedy, Jr.,  and Senator Joe Lieberman.   That really would have the media salivating.

Whenever “Paz” is on we inevitably talk about our hometown of Norwood, Massachusetts.   We both grew up in this Boston suburb, reading the Norwood Times and going to the Cornelius Callahan School and walking on field trips to the long defunct Neponset Valley Farm,  which is now a string of car dealerships and restaurants on the famous Automile.     As we sat in the studio waiting  to tape we also both reminisced about our ridiculously hot red Mustang driving kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Paris.     Is it okay to say that?

We’ll see you this Sunday at 11AM.

The Oldest Rookie?
October 11, 2010

Is 60 the new 40?  That’s what Dick Blumenthal and Linda McMahon must be hoping.  If elected, each would be one of the oldest rookie senators Connecticut has ever elected.    Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman are both older than Blumenthal and McMahon, but were much younger than this year’s candidates when first elected in 1980 and 1988 respectively.    Age certainly isn’t what it used to be,  and Blumenthal and McMahon appear to be in good health and look younger than their years.  

When McMahon announced Sunday  that if elected she would serve only two terms,  I was curious about the history of senators from our state and of the ages of the men and women in the chamber.  McMahon, who just turned 62 last week, would be 74 at the end of a second term.   

 Is 74 old?   Nah, not in the U.S. Senate.  Right now roughly a quarter of the senators (23) is older than 70; an additional four are in their eighties.   Several of these senior citizen senators are seeking re-election, including Daniel Inouye of Hawaii who is 86, the second oldest senator after New Jersey’s Frank Lautenberg, who is nine months older.      As for women in the senate, Maryland’s Barbara Mikulksi is older now than McMahon would be at the end of a second term,  and she is running for re-election.  

Blumenthal, who turns 65 in February,  would the oldest person elected to the seat now held by Senator Chris Dodd since Roger Sherman was elected back in the 1700s at the age of 70.   

 If Blumenthal is elected, he will  be the oldest freshman in the senate, with the exception of 67 year-old Dan Coats of Indiana, who wouldn’t be a real  freshman because he served in the senate previously back in the 1990s.  If elected, McMahon could  also be the oldest freshman depending on how senate elections in other states go.

Speaking of Dodd, he is one of the youngest senators our state has ever elected, sent to the senate by voters in 1980 at the age of 36.    He is Connecticut’s longest serving senator.  For Blumenthal to break that record he would have to serve until he is 95; McMahon until she is 92, and each would have to be re-elected in 2016, 2022, 2028, 2034 and 2040 to achieve that milestone.    

Will I still be moderating “Face the State” in 2040?

Candidates to Campaign in the Kitchen
October 11, 2010

We’ve seen the candidates debate, stump, shake hands and star in commercials.  Next week you’ll see them cook.   

Senate candidate Linda McMahon and gubernatorial candidates Tom Foley and Dan Malloy have all agreed to appear on “Better Connecticut” next week, separately, of course.  After all, there are frying pans and knives within arm’s length!     One candidate will not appear.    Dick Blumenthal declined the invitation,  according to “Better” producer Melissa Dethlefsen, who told me the campaigns were given a choice of days to come on. 

 McMahon, Foley and Malloy will join Scot Haney and Kara Sundlun in the kitchen and show off their culinary skills while chatting about their lives and campaigns.   The menu is being determined and it may be the candidate’s favorite family recipe.    

It is also an opportunity for the candidates to reach the voting bloc of women, who make up the vast majority of “Better Connecticut” viewers.

Former Dem. Party Boss says Obama and Pelosi not welcome in Connecticut
August 26, 2010

Former Connecticut Democratic Party chairman John Droney is sending a message to President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:  don’t come to our state to campaign for state Democrats.   During  a taping of “Face the State with Dennis House,” Droney (filling in for party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo) suggested their appearances on Nutmeg turf could hurt Democrats’ chances at the ballot box.  

The spurning of a President who won this blue state in a landslide in ’08 is a sure sign local Democrats fear a voter backlash at Washington could be percolating here in the land of steady habits.

According to the last poll, the President’s approval rating in Connecticut is at 50%, down from 72% just over a year ago,  and is under 50% in two congressional districts.    In the 4th district, Republican state senator Dan DeBicella is already planning to link freshman congressman Jim Himes to the White House.     In the 2nd, where the President’s approval rating is the lowest in the state, 46%, former television news anchor Janet Peckinpaugh plans to launch a similar assault against Congressman Joe Courtney.    In the 5th, state senator Sam Caligiuri has been telling voters Congressman Chris Murphy has more in common with Pelosi than Connecticut.       Just four years ago, those three congressional seats were all held by Republicans. 

While Droney may be saying “no thanks” to the President and House Speaker, state Republican party chairman Chris Healy is eagerly rolling out the welcome mat.      “I hope the President comes to campaign for Dick Blumenthal,”  Healy said during the “Face the State” taping.     

Later, party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo told the Hanging Shad’s Pat Scully and the Greenwich Time’s Neil Vigdor that Droney was speaking for himself and not the party.   Still, there was no outrage from the party faithful over Droney’s comments.     

My preview of the show posted late Thursday night has become one of the most read blog posts I’ve ever written.  Clips of the interview have been seen across the country, courtesy of realclearpolitics.com and has made the rounds locally, namely on WTIC AM 1080′s “Sound off Connecticut.” http://radioviceonline.com/former-connecticut-democrat-chairman-to-obama-and-pelosi-ummm-stay-home-please/

In case you missed the program, here is part 1 http://www.wfsb.com/video/24813866/index.html

Here is part 2 http://www.wfsb.com/video/24814064/index.html

The New Dick Blumenthal
July 16, 2010

I interviewed Dick Blumenthal last night for this Sunday’s Face the State, and he was a very different Dick Blumenthal.   It was the first real sit down interview in months and the  first time I had spoken to him since before the New York Times story broke in May, which changed his senate campaign and changed the way some voters look at him, perhaps forever. 

Blumenthal used to the be the most accessible public official in our land of steady habits, offering reporters his personal cell phone number and granting interviews  at a moment’s notice.   His eager willingness to go on camera was a running joke among his staff, journalists, columnists and radio disc jockeys…even himself.      But the post NY Times article Blumenthal is a new type of politician.   That cell phone number has been disconnected, and his twice, or thrice  weekly appearances on local media outlets have been sharply reduced.

We talked about the perception we journalists now have that Blumenthal is tightly managed.    He said that wasn’t the case, and he said I was wrong when I said he had turned down invitations to appear on “Face the State.”   I told him I had to set the record straight, and yes, in fact the campaign had turned us down.  In May, we put in a request to have Blumenthal on our show and it is now July.   In the old days I used to call Blumenthal at 5PM and have him in front of a camera by 7PM.   

Hey, I understand.  To say Blumenthal had a rough May is a huge understatement.  I don’t blame his people for holding him back from public appearances and interviews.    They were probably hoping the military service controversy would die down, and it has somewhat.  

I had no intention to ask Blumenthal specifically about the Vietnam comments.   He’s already explained them, and I didn’t expect anything new to come out.   I instead wanted to know what went on behind the scenes during those dark days in May when he was being criticized across the country.     I wanted to know he handled the obvious stress and tension of a crisis situation.    Blumenthal didn’t really answer the question and instead he brought up the Vietnam comments, apologizing to veterans, again. 

Blumenthal seemed to avoid a few of my questions and instead delivered answers to something else that seemed rehearsed.    It’s not my style to cut off guests, but I had to.   I didn’t want precious time burned on lengthy talking points that had been said before.

Also to watch for this weekend:  Blumenthal’s comments on Linda McMahon and the WWE.    The attorney general said voters will have to decide for themselves about McMahon’s character.     He also said there might be questions about whether McMahon’s WWE put profits above the safety of workers.   I asked whether his office had ever investigated the WWE for those allegations.  

His answer is very interesting, and I’d like to hear your take on it.   

My sense is that the Vietnam comments controversy shook Blumenthal to his core.     I don’t think the old Dick Blumenthal is ever coming back.    He is now in a race that is probably tougher than he ever imagined and for the first time after decades of easy landslides he faces an opponent in a campaign that has everybody watching.  

We also talked about immigration, the stimulus, and more.  

Tune in this Sunday at 11AM for Face the State.

UPDATE:  Here is the interview:

youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGe–s6JnWI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzrY4a3F0IQ

 wfsb

http://www.wfsb.com/video/24310724/index.html

http://www.wfsb.com/video/24310867/index.html

One Lousy Day for Connecticut Democrats
May 18, 2010

 

Eddie Perez, Susan Bysiewicz and Richard Blumenthal in happier days, 2007                         Photo courtesy: Ken Krayeske

This was a really, really bad day for Connecticut Democrats. 

Within a two hour period and a four mile radius, the Democrats were the focus of three embarrassing stories as they head into the convention.   

First, the Democrat with the highest approval ratings of any politician in the state faced allegations he lied about his military record.     In a news conference broadcast all across the country,  Richard Blumenthal told reporters he regretted that he “misspoke” about having served in Vietnam.    Democrats could almost hear the poll numbers tumbling.

Later,  across from the State Capitol at the State Supreme Court, the Democrats’ one time frontrunner in the race for governor and Blumenthal’s fellow constitutional officer was dealt a devastating blow.   The high court ruled Susan Bysiewicz is not qualified to succeed Blumenthal.   

On New Year’s Day she was the odds-on favorite to be our next governor, an office her party hasn’t been able to capture since 1986.    Now, for the first time in more than a generation, this once rising star in the Democratic party probably won’t even be on a ballot come November.

 Meanwhile, around the corner from the Supreme Court, the three term Democratic mayor of the capital city was away from his city hall office again,  in court as a defendant in his corruption trial.   Eddie Perez, the host mayor of the Democratic convention this weekend faces prison time if convicted.   

To be fair, Connecticut Republicans have had their bad days, too, but  this was certainly one of the worst days to be  a “D,” unless your name is George Jepsen.

“Face the State” meets the CBS Evening News
May 18, 2010

 

Tune into tonight to the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and you catch me talking about the Richard Blumenthal military service controversy.

I was interviewed for Jeff Greenfield’s report.    It airs tonight at 6:30PM

Now back to my day job.

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