HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Republican Linda McMahon explained Thursday why she hasn't offered specifics throughout the Connecticut Senate race on how she'd change Social Security and Medicare to keep the programs financially solvent, saying she would be "demagogued" for providing detailed ideas.
When asked during the fourth and final debate between McMahon and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy about what she would do to shore up the two benefits, McMahon acknowledged "there are several things to think about," but said she has purposely "not offered specifics when I'm on the campaign trail because I'd get demagogued."
Afterward, McMahon told reporters the media are the ones doing the damagoguing of Medicare and Social Security.
"Thanks to all you all folks in the media, you're the ones who primarily do it and bash any suggestions that might be made to improve either Social Security, Medicare," she said.
McMahon said federal lawmakers need to "sit down and put those issues on the table and go through them all and debate them and have the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) score them and to see what economically makes sense and how we're going to move forward, protecting our benefits and making sure that both Social Security and Medicare are there for the long term," McMahon said. "To do nothing is irresponsible."
Senior citizens issues, including Social Security and Medicare, have been a key point of contention in the close race to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent.
Murphy has accused McMahon of wanting to "sunset" or phase out Social Security after 10 to 15 years for a review, pointing to taped comments she made to a group of tea party activists earlier this year when she used the word sunset. He has also accused McMahon of supporting proposals to privatize Medicare. McMahon has denied both accusations and repeated on Thursday that she would not support a budget that cuts funding to either program.
Murphy pounced on McMahon's "demagoguing" comment, accusing the former wrestling executive of admitting she doesn't want to risk votes by offering up specific ideas to the voters.
"You have an obligation as a candidate to tell people where you stand, even if that wins you some votes and loses you other votes," he told reporters after the debate. "I thought it was great that Linda McMahon finally admitted that the reason that she's not telling her positions on issues that she's worried that people will vote against her."
Murphy has called for increasing the cap on how much money goes into Social Security by having the wealthiest Americans pay more in Social Security taxes. On Medicare, the 5th Congressional District congressman has said the federal government should continue streamlining the system and reward medical outcomes rather than the number of procedures. If that doesn't deliver enough savings, he has said there should be means testing for Medicare for the very wealthy.
A new University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant Poll released Thursday shows Murphy has a slight lead over McMahon, with 44 percent of likely voters supporting Murphy, compared to 38 percent who back McMahon. Seventeen percent said they are undecided. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
As in past debates, a lot of the focus was on women's issues and abortion.
Murphy accused McMahon of not really supporting abortion rights, despite her repeated statements in TV ads and during the hour-long debate that she is a "pro-choice woman."
Murphy pointed to how McMahon has received support from anti-abortion advocates and her stance on abortion-related issues, including her support of a failed amendment to the federal health care reform law that would have allowed businesses to forgo health insurance coverage for contraception.
He warned that McMahon would support the "anti-woman, tea party agenda" in Washington if she becomes the state's next senator.
McMahon, who has said the failed federal amendment about contraception was an overreach by the government, reiterated her support for abortion rights and said as a mother and grandmother, she wouldn't do anything to hurt women and their health care.
Both candidates said they oppose late-term abortions unless the health and life of the mother is at risk, and both said they believe life begins at birth.
The debate was sponsored by the Connecticut Broadcasters Association and aired on a number of stations, both live and tape delay.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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jgnoonan | October 19 2012 4:42pm
McMahon is way more qualified than power hungry career politician Murphy. He's spent his life either running for office or helping others run. We need more people with real world experience in Washington. Linda McMahon and Mitt Romney have my vote precisely for that reason. The fact that she went through bankruptcy means she knows what it's like to fall on hard times. Murphy has been a Democrat golden boy, pushed forward because of his good looks (gag). His policies are burying the state residents with taxes, killing jobs. He's never seen a tax he didn't like. He fully supports Obamacare even though it is going to cost the state millions to implement and maintain, adding more to our burdens. We need to stop this madness.
Alex | October 19 2012 8:03am
Until elections are not funded by private donations people will try and buy influence by donating to a candidate. I have never given to a candidate and never will, but the rich can and will because it buys them influence. Linda McMahon donated 10k to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2010 (by her own admission) and the Koch brothers have donated millions to republican pac's as has Sheldon Adelsson. Dem's also have their donors such as George Soros. I understand that thought that Linda McMahon is trying to buy a senate seat. She seems willing to spend millions of her own money for a job that pays about 200K a year. Not because of the pay, but because of the influence and recognition it will get her. She seems like she knows or cares little about the issues and she won't answer a question about her position when she asked about them. Her latest answer is that the media "demagogs" her position when in truth, I believe she has no answer and will vote as she is told. That seems to be the republican theme this year from NitMit Romney all they way down, say you have a better solution but then refuse to give a description of it. In the end that will be the downfall of the repubs this time. People want answers or at the very least a clue, and they aren't getting it
SherriJane | October 19 2012 7:28am
I will never quite understand why some think a candidate is trying to "buy" an election. Every one of the candidates pan for donations and that's one reason I never give to any of them. There is way too much money in our politics - State and Federal. They are mostly millionaires but want us to donate. I say B.S.
Cope119 | October 19 2012 6:42am
Once again Linda McMahon got her backside kicked in. She looked uniformed and doesn't seem to think she needs to know any issues or have any answers. She acts like all she needs to do is insult Mr Murphy and have no thoughts on issues and treat everyone as though they work for her. I am no fan of Mr Murphy, but when you compare he and Mrs McMahon, Mr Murphy is immensely qualified to be a senator where Mrs McMahon has not shown any qualifications other then wanting to buy an election that she thinks is owed to her
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