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Headlines from Courant.com

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    blumenthal_obama.jpgPresident Barack Obama is swooping almost literally into Republican Linda McMahon's backyard Thursday to raise money for the wrestling maven's opponent at a big-money fundraiser in Connecticut's richest town.

    Obama is joining Attorney General Richard Blumenthal at a fundraiser in Stamford and then at a $30,000-per-person dinner at the 20-acre estate of affordable housing developer Rich Richman. Richman's palatial home is not only in the same neighborhood as McMahon, but it is also within the same gated Conyers Farm development in Greenwich's famed "back country'' neighborhood.

    The minimum lot size at exclusive Conyers Farm is 10 acres under deed restrictions sought by former property owner and developer Peter Brant, the polo kingpin and paper-selling magnate who has generated his own headlines recently with a high-stakes, big-money divorce from Victoria's Secret model Stephanie Seymour.

    The star-studded dinner, which raised $1 million for the Democratic National Committee, included longtime Greenwich director Ron Howard, "Doonesbury'' cartoonist Garry Trudeau, and his wife, television journalist Jane Pauley. Blumenthal was seated near the back of the vaulted-ceiling dining room at the $16 million mansion, while Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dannel Malloy was seated toward the front.

    At the earlier fundraiser at a Stamford hotel, Obama immediately talked about McMahon's plans to spend as much as $50 million in a campaign that includes a constant television and direct-mail advertising blitz.

    "Dick, she has more money than you - just in case there was any confusion,'' Obama said to Blumenthal as the crowd laughed.

    Obama then compared professional wrestling to the ongoing brawls in the U.S. Senate and said they weren't all that different - prompting more laughs from the crowd.

    Obama then turned more serious and said, "But the truth is, and Dick understands this, public service is not a game. At this moment, we are facing challenges we haven't seen since the Great Depression, and facing serious challenges requires serious leaders - leaders who are willing to take on the status quo, leaders who are willing to take on special interests, leaders who are willing to fight for our people and our future. And Dick Blumenthal is that leader. And that's why I need all of you to make him your next United States Senator. That's the choice in this election.''

    He added, "I need you to knock on some doors for Dick Blumenthal. We need you to write some more checks for Dick Blumenthal. ... The only way we'll match their millions of dollars is if we've got millions of people [across the country] making their voices heard. None of this will be easy. It will be hard.''

    Obama ended his remarks in Stamford at about 7 p.m. by saying, "So help me get Dick elected, and let's keep on moving forward! Connecticut, thank you very much. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.''

    McMahon's campaign fired back, directly at Obama, with an e-mail to her supporters.

    "Today, our opponent is chasing down Washington's seal of approval to help prop up his stalled campaign,'' McMahon said in an e-mail. "He's turning to the same people who failed to turn our economy around and who are heaping trillions in new debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren. Send a message to the career politicians that you want a different kind of Senator. Make no mistake. Washington insiders are rushing to protect one of their own because they're scared of our growing momentum and message of putting an end to politics as usual in Washington. ... It's time for something different in Washington, and together we will deliver it.''

    With more than 300 hard-core supporters in attendance, the Blumenthal campaign anticipated raising about $400,000.

    View pictures from the fundraiser here.

    The second event - the dinner at Conyers Farm - cost $30,400, which is the maximum contribution to the Democratic National Committee. The invitation to the dinner, which went to some attendees via e-mail, mentions the price-tag and says there will be "a small dinner and discussion'' with Obama that is a "personal dinner with no more than 50 guests.''

    The e-mail says "I hope you can show support'' for Obama, the national committee, and Organizing For America, a pro-Democratic organization.

    Richman and his wife, Ellen Schapps Richman, have been prominent fundraisers for many years and have hosted Teresa Heinz Kerry - the wife of then-presidential candidate John Kerry - at their home. Rich Richman has contributed to many of the best-known Democrats across the nation, including Obama, U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, Barney Frank, Al Franken, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and Charles Rangel, the embattled House member who won a primary on Tuesday night in his home district of Harlem. Richman, 63, has also contributed to U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, who held the Congressional seat in the Fourth District in lower Fairfield County until being defeated by Democrat Jim Himes in 2008.

    Neil Vigdor of the Greenwich Time, who was in the dining room, reported that Obama thanked the Richmans for their longtime support and noted that the couple had been contributors since "before people could pronounce my name." 

    For those who cannot afford the dinner with Obama at $30,000 per person, there was a $1,000-per-person fundraiser at a Stamford hotel. For $12,400, attendees could have their picture taken with the president.

    The national pool report, by White House correspondent Margaret Talev of McClatchy newspapers, said that Air Force One arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City at 5:14 p.m., and then Obama took the Marine One helicopter to Stamford. The motorcade to the Marriott, in the rain, went past multiple onlookers, and Obama arrived at the hotel at 5:53 p.m.

    By 6:15 p.m., it was raining heavily outside the fundraiser. The torrential downpour was so hard that it largely dispersed both the supporters and opponents of Obama who had gathered outside the hotel.


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    Fresh off his scoop about Tom Foley's previously undisclosed medical condition, WFSB's Dennis House has another enlightening interview. This time, it is with former Congressman Rob Simmons.


    Simmons predicts Linda McMahon, the woman who seized the GOP Senate nomination from him, will wind up victorious in November. Simmons called Democrat Richard Blumenthal's campaign "lackluster" and told House "it's over for him."

    The interview with Simmons will air Sunday morning at 11 a.m. on Channel 3.

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    The White House released the remarks by President Barack Obama, in their entirety, from a fundraiser for Attorney General Richard Blumenthal at a hotel in downtown Stamford.

    Blumenthal was leading Republican Linda McMahon of Greenwich by 6 percentage points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll among likely voters in the November 2 election.

    The following are remarks:

    6:36 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you very much, thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Everybody please have a seat, have a seat. 

    Well, hello, Stamford!  It is good to be back in Connecticut, and it is an honor to stand here with your attorney general and the next United States senator from Connecticut, Dick Blumenthal.  (Applause.)

         I also want to acknowledge your candidate for governor, Dan Malloy, who is here, or he may have slipped out right before -- there he is.  (Applause.)  Not sure -- when you're campaigning, you can't be in one place too long.  (Laughter.)

         And I also want to just say thank you to Cynthia and the kids for lending Dick to Connecticut and to the country.  I know it is hard to be the spouse of a candidate and the spouse of an attorney general, and it's going to be tough being the spouse of a United States senator.  I promised that I would not let Michelle talk to Cynthia before the election.  (Laughter.)  It's hard work.  But we are extraordinarily grateful.  And the fact that David and Matthew and Claire and Mike are doing so well is a testament I know Dick agrees with Mom.  So please give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

    Now, Connecticut, let's face it, this decision in this election should be a no-brainer.  (Laughter.)  Right?  (Applause.)  I mean, it should be.  Should be a no-brainer.  Here you've got a man who's been fighting for the people of Connecticut since the day he walked into the attorney general's office.  He's got the record to prove it.  He's taken on the tobacco industry and helped stop those companies from targeting our kids.  He's taken on utility companies to try to beat back electricity rate increases and skyrocketing costs of heating oil.  He's taken on the auto industry to help keep family dealerships open that have been around for almost a century.  (Applause.)

    There is no -- there's no fight too big or too small for Dick Blumenthal to take on.  He was there to help a mother get her insurance company to pay for her baby's special formula.  He was there to help a family rebuild after their home was destroyed by fire.  He's there at county fairs and Rotary Club meetings and PTA meetings, talking with people of this state, listening to your concerns. 

    This is the kind of leader you want representing you.  (Applause.)  Somebody you know.  Somebody who shares your values.  Somebody who doesn't just show up and try to get a victory by writing a big check and flooding the airwaves with negative ads.  Now, I have to say -- Dick said his opponent may have more money.  Dick, she has more money than you.  (Laughter.)  I mean, it's -- (laughter) -- just in case there's any confusion.  (Laughter.)

    And I understand she has promised a "smackdown."  (Laughter.)  That is what she said.  And, look, there's no doubt, I can see how somebody who's been in professional wrestling would think that they're right at home in the United States Senate -- (laughter) -- if the were watching some of the behavior that's been going on.  (Laughter.)

    But the truth is -- and Dick understands this -- public service is not a game.  At this moment, we are facing challenges we haven't seen since the Great Depression.  And facing serious challenges requires serious leaders -- leaders who are willing to take on the status quo; leaders who are willing to take on special interests; leaders who are willing to fight for our people and our future.  And Dick Blumenthal is that leader.  And that's why I need all of you to make him your next United States senator.  That's the choice in this election.  (Applause.)


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    The White House released the transcript of President Barack Obama's remarks at the home of Richard and Ellen Richman, who live in the exclusive Conyers Farm development in Greenwich's famed "back country'' neighborhood.

    Conyers Farm is the 1,500-acre gated community where Republican Linda McMahon also lives. Her opponent, Democrat Richard Blumenthal, attended the dinner with the President at a 20-acre estate that was not far from McMahon's home.

    The transcript is as follows:

    7:52 P.M. EDT

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, listen, Richard and Ellen, I'm so grateful to you guys for opening up this extraordinary home. 

    And just a couple of quick acknowledgments.  Obviously we've got races all across the country that are important, but there are very few races that are more important to me than the race for U.S. Senate here, and Dick Blumenthal I think is just an outstanding candidate who is going to be a terrific U.S. senator. (Applause.)

         We've got Dan Malloy, who is going to be the next governor of Connecticut.  (Applause.)  And we've got somebody who is probably the only person who is putting in more miles than me -- Tim Kaine.  (Applause.) 

         It is great to be here with some new friends, but also some old friends.  Richard and Ellen were some of my earliest supporters.  They actually supported me when I ran for United States Senate -- before people could pronounce my name.  (Laughter.)  And so for them to open up their house like this is just terrific.

         I'm not going to give a long speech because I want to take the opportunity to sit with each of you and hear what you're thinking, answer your questions.  But let me just say generally, we came into office back in January of 2009 at a historic time -- the worst financial crisis that we've seen since the Great Depression, on the verge of a Great Depression, in the midst of two wars.  And so the challenges that we've confronted over these last two years have been extraordinary.  And we've got a long way to go.  This country received a body blow.  And it was already having difficulties competitively.  It was already falling behind educationally.  We had a health care system that was broken, a middle class that hadn't seen its incomes or wages go up at the same time as their costs were skyrocketing for everything from college tuition to health care.

         And so the recovery has been painfully slow.  We've got millions of people who are still out of work, hundreds of thousands of people who've lost their homes.  People are anxious about the future; they're fearful about the future.  And we're in a very competitive environment, where other countries like China and India have now caught up -- in some indicators -- and are going to keep on moving because they are hungry and they've got some very talented people.


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    The day after President Obama's campaign stop in Connecticut, the Blumenthal campaign announced that former President Bill Clinton is coming to the state,

    Clinton's visit is set for Sept. 26; details are still being worked out, said Blumenthal spokeswoman Maura Downes. It is unclear whether the former President will appear at a private fundsraiser (as Obama did), a public rally or both.

    Clinton has been criss-crossing the country to help Democrats. The same day that he's set to appear in Connecticut, he will also swing by Taunton, Mass., where he'll attend a public rally with Massachusetts Democratic congressman Barney Frank. According to a story in the Taunton Daily Gazette, Clinton will appear at a public rally at the high school fieldhouse with Frank.

    According to the Gazette "Frank said he wanted Clinton to be part of a traditional rally, which is open to the general public, as opposed to a fundraiser.''

    Will Blumenthal make the same request? That's unclear at this time.

    But one thing is clear: standing next to Blill Clinton at a campaign event in front of thousands might be more politically palatable than doing so with the current occupant of the Oval Office, given President Obama's sliding popularity in Connecticut.

     


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    During her concert at the XL Center last night, Lady Gaga dedicated the song "Speechless" to Sens. Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman for their support of repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

    Gaga, an outspoken advocate of repealing the policy, also took time out from the music last night to praise Sen. Harry Reid, for scheduling a vote on DADT, according to Courant rock critic Eric Danton.

    Earlier in the week, Gaga tweeted her call for repeal of DADT, which was later retweeted by Reid.

    UPDATE: Dodd tweets about it too!

     


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    President Obama today placed Harvard prof Elizabeth Warren in charge of laying the ground work for the powerful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    Obama appointed Warren to the senior White House position of assistant to the president and senior special advisor to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. She will be responsible for organizing the new consumer agency, Obama said.

    "I spoke with Elizabeth Warren this morning and congratulated her on her appointment to the President's staff,'' Sen. Chris Dodd said in a statement. "Ms. Warren has proven to be a strong, qualified, and terrific watchdog and I have no doubt her advice will help move this important new bureau forward to make sure American consumers are protected from hidden fees, abusive terms, and deceptive practices."


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    Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane said Friday that he won't pursue a criminal investigation into a 36,000-name constituent database maintained by Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz.

    The matter had been referred to Kane in early August by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal after an investigation in which Blumenthal concluded that Bysiewicz kept "inappropriate" personal and political information in the taxpayer-funded office database.

    Blumenthal's office has confirmed that he referred the report to Kane, to legislative leaders and to the State Elections Enforcement Commission in hopes of closing a legal loophole that permits political activity in state offices by elected officials, and to allow Kane to review whether any criminal laws were violated.

    In a letter dated Friday, Kane wrote that after reviewing the report and talking with Blumenthal's investigators, his office "has concluded that no criminal investigation is warranted."

    Bysiewicz issued a statement saying: "This ... confirms what we have said all along: That the database we use is a very valuable tool to provide constituent service and manage the many constitutional and statutory functions of this office."

    Kane's decision could mean it may never be determined who used a computer in Bysiewicz's office in 2007 to upload more than 6,700 names from her 2006 re-election campaign database into the official database.


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    Former Senate Democratic spokesman Pat Scully is reporting that the Waterbury regional chamber of commerce has no problem with former Gov. John G. Rowland's new role as a radio personality for three hours per day, five days a week in the Farmington studio of WTIC-AM.

    Rowland is currently paid nearly $100,000 per year as an economic development czar for the city of Waterbury in a role that is paid partly by the regional chamber and partly by the city.

    http://scullycommunications.com/scullyblog/


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  • 09/17/10--18:37: Blumenthal hits back
  • It's what Democrats who say the party's U.S. Senate nominee hasn't been fighting hard enough to defend his record against Republican Linda McMahon have been waiting for: A hard hitting ad by the Blumenthal campaign that defends his record and lobs an attack of its own against McMahon.


    The 30-second spot began airing tonight.

    "More false attacks from Linda McMahon's $50 million campaign,'' says the announcer, as images of McMahon ads drift across the screen. 

    Then three women appear and say they are "sick" of McMahon's ads. "The truth is Dick Blumenthal stopped nearly $1 billion in utility rate hikes and supports cutting taxes for the middle class,'' the announcer states.

    "Linda McMahon just doesn't get it. She laid off 10 percent of her workforce but still took home $46 million a year."

    Then the tagline: "Linda McMahon, profits before people."

    The Blumenthal campaign has long said it won't hesitate to "set the record straight" about McMahon's statements --- and her record as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

    But until now, it has largely left the attacks to surrogates, such as state and national Democrats. The new ad is the first indication that that strategy is changing.




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    Our colleague, Rick Green, reports that video surveillance at a Wal-Mart was a key factor in leading to an arrest at a bomb scare in Madison at a Republican event for Linda McMahon and other candidates.

    McMahon, Congressional candidate Janet Peckinpaugh, and Attorney General candidate Martha Dean, among others, were at the event. A local Republican has been arrested in the case.

    http://blogs.courant.com/rick_green/2010/09/republican-allegedly-dials-bom.html


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  • 09/18/10--19:47: Game time with Ann Brickley
  • Ann Brickley, the Republican candidate in the 1st Congressional District, sent voters a little gift inside her recent fundraising solicitation letter: A handy pocket-sized NFL schedule.


    Perhaps she is hoping to remind folks who couldn't afford a $2,500 ticket to Democratic incumbent John Larson's Sept. 12 Redskins-Cowboys fundraiser that there are other games to watch.

    IMG00327-20100918-2201.jpg  


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    Nearly all of the state government's 55,000 employees have had to take several unpaid furlough days since the first half of 2009, under the requirements of legislation and negotiated union agreements intended to deal with the budget crisis.

    But a small number of the state's most elite employees -- about 180 Superior and Appellate court judges, and Supreme Court justices -- had the option of not taking the furloughs, and 26 have chosen not to.

    As reported in Sunday's Government Watch column in The Courant, that happened despite a formal request by the high court's chief justice, Chase T. Rogers, that they "take these days for the overall good of the [Judicial] Branch and for the morale of our dedicated employees."


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    Republican congressional candidate Sam Caligiuri has met a series of fundraising thresholds set by the National Republican Congressional Committee, making him eligible for "contender status."

    That could open the door for Caligiuri to receive a significant infusion of cash and resources from national Republicans as he battles Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy in Connecticut's 5th District.

    Meanwhile, over in the 2nd District, the NRCC has granted Republican Janet Peckinpaugh "on the radar" status, the first step in the three-tiered Young Guns program. Peckinpaugh is hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney.

     


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    An Australian television news program on phony military veterans in the U.S. includes a segment on Connecticut's Democratic attorney general and candidate for U.S. Senate Richard Blumenthal.

    The half-hour show, "Foreign Correspondent," will air tomorrow night on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (similar to the BBC in Britain.) The episode, "Heroes, Frauds and Imposters," explores the concept of "stolen valor" and focuses on people who falsely claim to have military experience or military medals in order to gain sympathy or support.

    In addition to the story of a Colorado man who fabricated an identity as a highly decorated Iraq war veteran, the program devotes time to Blumenthal and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk. Both men have misstated their military records.

    "While Blumenthal was not in breach of the Stolen Valor Act, veterans we interviewed felt that falsely claiming war service was as bad as falsely claiming medals [which is covered by the Act],'' Mark Corcoran, the program's award-winning correspondent, said via email.

    Corcoran said he tried to interview Blumenthal. A crew went to the attorney general's Hartford office earlier this year, accompanying conservative activists who were there to ask him for a legal opinion on the Gadsden flag controversy.

    "To everyone's surprise we were ushered into Mr. Blumenthal's office, for what we thought would be a meeting,'' Corcoran said. "Instead, we ended up talking to Mr. Blumenthal via a  conference call speakerphone. He told us he was out of town on family business. Attending his son's graduation ceremony with the US Marine Corps.

    "After some initial discussion on lining up a further meeting with the delegation. I introduced myself to Mr. Blumenthal and said I'd like to discuss his military service. He said he wasn't talking to the media. End of conversation,'' Corcoran said.

    Blumenthal campaign strategist Marla Romash said the candidate has addressed the Vietnam issue many times.

    "The people of Connecticut have made it clear that they are much more interested in issues that are effecting them now,'' Romash said.

     


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    Democrat Dannel Malloy is trying to place his name in the history books as the first mayor in decades to become Connecticut's governor.

    But Malloy already put a notch in the books Monday with the first cross-endorsement in the governor's race since 1938. Malloy was endorsed by the Working Families Party, a union-backed coalition that often supports Democrats and pro-union candidates.

    It was the first cross-endorsement in the governor's race since Republican Raymond E. Baldwin was cross-endorsed in 1938 by the Union Party, according to the Secretary of the State's spokesman, Av Harris. Baldwin went on to become governor and served until resigning to become a United States Senator in December 1946.

    If Malloy gets at least 1 percent of the votes on the Working Families line, then the party will qualify for an automatic spot on the ballot for governor in the 2014 race. Among minor parties, the Green Party often secures a ballot slot in a variety of races. But that is not the case this year because Green Party candidate Cliff Thornton received only 0.85 percent of the vote in the 2006 race against Republican M. Jodi Rell and Democrat John DeStefano. As such, the party fell short of the necessary 1 percent.


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    Mark Greenberg, an unsuccessful GOP candidate in Connecticut's 5th congressional district, is endorsing Martha Dean for attorney general.

    "Martha has impressed me as a person deeply interested in limiting the role of Attorney General to what was originally intended and advancing the responsibilities of the position, not herself,'' Greenberg said in a press release. "She has a vibrant knowledge of the Constitution and would always be mindful of its wisdom. Martha would also balance with her conservatism what will likely be an unbalanced state government."

    Dean said she was proud to receive Greenberg's endorsement. "He's a fiscal conservative who ran a positive and substantive campaign for Congress,'' she said.

    Positive? She must have missed this Greenberg attack ad against fellow Republican and eventual nominee Sam Caligiuri. 


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    Democrats are bringing in some big names to raise money and support for Richard Blumenthal this fall. So who's coming to stump for Republican Linda McMahon?


    "We haven't sought any outside endorsements and we have no plans to seek them,'' McMahon spokesman Ed Patru said via email.

    If Rob Simmons were the GOP nominee, you could bank on an October visit from Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, maybe even George H.W. Bush (though those establishment pols might not play as well this year.)

    Blumenthal has already brought in the president; former President Bill Clinton rolls into town at the end of the month.

    But McMahon, a multi-millionaire self-funder, doesn't want or need surrogates to campaign on her behalf.

    She was asked by WTNH political reporter Mark Davis if she'd welcome a visit from Sarah Palin. McMahon said she'd enjoy meeting Palin but isn't seeking the endorsement of the former Alaska governor -- or anyone else.

    "I'm just going to continue doing what I'm doing,'' McMahon told Davis.


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    In one of the hardest-hitting commercials of the campaign season, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley is calling Democrat Dannel Malloy a liar for distorting his own jobs record and Foley's business record.

    In particularly blunt terms, Foley says that Malloy needs to tell the truth.

    The commercial starts by saying, "Dan Malloy's new negative ad? 3 lies in 30 seconds.''

    The ad then says that Malloy distorted Foley's record at The Bibb company in Georgia, which Foley once owned before the company filed for bankruptcy. The Bibb controversy became a major issue in the Republican primary, and now Malloy has raised the issue again in the general election.

    Foley's commercial then switches to Malloy's own record on jobs. "Dan Malloy says he created jobs, but official records say Stamford lost 13,000 jobs since 2000,'' the ad states. "Dan Malloy: misrepresenting Tom Foley's record and caught in a lie about his own. Connecticut needs a governor who tells the truth.''

    Even though the commercial has been playing regularly since Friday night, Malloy said in an interview Monday that he had not yet seen it.

    "Mr. Foley has the right to spend his money saying what he wants to say,'' Malloy said. "We have a very clear message about the future of Connecticut, and I think our message is being embraced. He'll do whatever he wants to do, I suppose.''

    He declined to comment at all about his own commercial's statements about the Bibb Company and Foley's response.

    "I'm not going to get into commenting on his advertising end of it,'' Malloy said, referring questions to his chief strategist, Roy Occhiogrosso. "You know who to call. They're better at that than I am.''

    Occhiogrosso maintains that the charges that are mentioned in the commercial are true.

    "The facts speak for themselves,'' Occhiogrosso said. "If Tom thinks there's a different set of facts, then he should release all his business and tax records to prove whatever point he's trying to make."

    The comments came on a day when Malloy received the endorsement of the nearly 1,100-member state police union and the cross-endorsement of the Working Families Party, which was the first cross-endorsement in the governor's race since 1938.


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    In an increasingly negative campaign, Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dannel Malloy are running television commercials that attack each other and question the other's record.

    Both of the ads focus on The Bibb Company, a Georgia textile manufacturer that was owned by Foley before it went bankrupt. The Bibb mill eventually closed, but Foley says that happened after he had relinquished control of the company. 

    Malloy's ad that criticizes Foley and the Bibb Company is available at

    http://www.dailyructions.com/malloy-strafes-foley-in-new-ad-greedy-businessman-ruined-our-economy-why-would-we-trust-one-to-fix-it/ 


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