“How Do We Know What’s The Truth?”
by Melissa Bailey | Oct 3, 2012 11:58 am
Posted to: Politics, Fair Haven, Campaign 2012
The regulars at a pinochle game at a New Haven senior center got a visit from Chris Murphy—and demonstrated how hard it is to deliver a clear message or talk about real issues in Connecticut’s too-close-to-call U.S. Senate race.
Murphy, a Democrat, is locked in a bitter race with Republican Linda McMahon for Connecticut’s open Senate seat in the final weeks leading up to a Nov. 6 general election.
On Tuesday, Murphy stopped by the city-run Atwater Senior Center in Fair Haven to greet seniors, and air a new line of attack against his contender on the eve of a larger rally with seniors, dependent on a creative interpretation of a statement McMahon once made about social security.
On Atwater Street, Murphy made a pitch to just the kind of independent voters he needs to sway to prevail in the race, which is basically deadlocked.
After he left and seniors returned to business, their reactions revealed a mass of confusion fed by the haze of nasty attack commercials blanketing TV this election season.
Frank Stopka (at left in photo above), an unaffiliated voter and Atwater pinochler, said he had heard MCmahon’s charges about Murphy’s personal business. He’d also heard that McMahon failed to pay back $1 million in debt from her and her husband’s 1976 personal bankruptcy. (The McMahons have since pledged to repay the money.)
Candidates “always run negative campaigns against each other so the populace is confused,” Stopka remarked. He said he didn’t know whom to vote for.
“I haven’t made up my mind,” he said, “because they’re all so full of lies.”
The topic at hand Tuesday was social security.
McMahon, a former wrestling company CEO, would “end social security in 10 to 15 years,” Murphy warned in remarks to reporters at the senior center. “She won’t tell them what her plans are,” he said, so “I need to go to senior centers” across the state to spread the word.
Murphy, a Congressman representing the western part of the state, was referring to comments McMahon made at a Tea Party event in April, where she called for a “sunset provision” for entitlement programs such as Social Security. The comments appeared in an article in the Huffington Post last week.
Murphy said unlike McMahon, he would preserve Social Security. “I don’t think we should be playing games with seniors’ Social Security checks.”
McMahon’s campaign, which didn’t respond to a request for comment Tuesday, has said Murphy has taken her words out of context: By calling for a “sunset provision,” McMahon intended to add a checkpoint to the legislation to make sure it’s still sustainable—not end the program, campaign spokesman Todd Abrajano told CTNewsJunkie last week. “Linda McMahon is committed to reforming entitlements without breaking the promises we’ve made to our seniors,” he said. “She will never vote for a budget that cuts Social Security for seniors.”
Murphy’s message met mixed reviews from the diverse crowd that dined on cantaloupe and plantains at the Atwater Senior Center at lunch time Tuesday.
Ado Carbone (pictured), a registered Democrat originally from Italy, chatted with Murphy and pledged his vote.
Over in the game room next door, skepticism reigned at a card table, where four buddies were playing their daily game of pinochle.
Gus Cuomo (at right in photo at the top of this story), a registered Democrat, said he wants to support a candidate who boosts Social Security. “They shouldn’t interfere with it.”
However, he wasn’t sure which of the Senate candidates he could count on to accomplish that.
“The way they talk back and forth, I don’t know which one is going to help us or not,” he said.
Cuomo declined to reveal whom he would vote for.
Frank Stopka’s brother John (at center right in photo at the top of the story), who’s 82, said social security is of vital importance to him—“why is that even a question?” However, he said, he could not differentiate the two Senate candidates’ stances on the topic. For him, the election comes down to whom he can trust, and a sense that “I am not better off that I was four years ago.”
Stopka declared his support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and for Linda McMahon. “Chris Murphy don’t pay his taxes, he don’t pay his mortgage,” Stopka objected, referring to late payments Murphy made on his home and car. “I don’t trust Murphy.”
“There are so many lies out there,” interjected Frank Stopka, who’s 72. “How do you we know what’s the truth?”
Both Stopka brothers, who grew up in New Haven and now live in nearby towns, described themselves as unaffiliated voters—part of the bloc that may decide the election.
Murphy found more support at the jigsaw puzzle table, where four women were reconstructing a painting called Sundae Cottage.
A woman who gave only her first name, Mozella, said she had a bad impression of McMahon: “She got people in the ring teaching violence,” she said. She said she’s leaning towards voting for Murphy.
Next to her, Antoinette Wright said she hadn’t been following the race closely: “I don’t know too much about politics. I don’t look at it on TV too much,” she said. But she professed faith in Murphy’s “young mind,” which she said would bring new ideas.
Margaret Avent agreed with Murphy’s argument that Republicans are threatening core entitlements.
“They’re gonna take stuff away from us,” she said, “especially Medicare,” which the Republican presidential ticket seeks to privatize.
A group of Latino women in another room said they didn’t get to talk to Murphy because they don’t speak much English.
Victoria Colón said she saw something on television outlining what Murphy would do in the Senate.
“I don’t know if it’s true,” she said in Spanish, but she liked what she heard. She said she also heard that McMahon had a bad track record with “some kind of business.”
“But she also said she was poor” and she undertstood what poor families are going through, interjected Colón’s friend, who declined to give her name.
Colón said she doesn’t receive Social Security because she didn’t pay into the program.
Overall, she remained undecided: “I don’t know if I will vote.”
Tags: Chris Murphy, Linda McMahon, U.S. Senate, senior citizens, social security, Atwater Senior Center
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For the record Linda McMahon hasn’t paid squat into Social Security or Medicare over the past ten years. Nada, zilch, nothing but a big fat zero.
This is because she takes all her money out of WWE as dividend income, which is taxed at just 15% and is completely exempt from FICA taxes.
So if we believe what McMahon’s talking head says about what Linda MEANT when she was talking about “believing in sunsets” for things like Social Security, then the spokesperson is admitting that Linda McMahon doesn’t understand what a “sunset provision” actually is. And that’s rather disqualifying in itself, isn’t it?
Me, I think she knows exactly what it is, and knew exactly what she was saying, and that Mr. Murphy’s assessment is basically correct. Even when McMahon talks about needing to change social security, she talks about raising the retirement age, or raising the taxes. The thing she DOESN’T talk about is raising the upper income limit at which SS is taken out. That, of course, would impact her rich friends. And we can’t do that.