For a former executive in a company made famous for its bombastic use of folding chairs and human heads, Linda McMahon is surprisingly “handled.”
McMahon, the ex-CEO of Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment, is competing with former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and Peter Schiff for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Dodd Chris Dodd.
During an appearance Thursday night in front of the Seymour Town Republican Committee at the town’s community center, McMahon took questions from the public — but inquiries from the sole reporter attending the event were eventually shut down by a press wrangler after McMahon’s speech.
A formal response to a question about winning over non-affiliated voters came later, in the form of an e-mail.
“Republicans, Democrats and independents alike – are fed up with Washington’s spending sprees, the massive debt, the nearly double-digit unemployment rate and the never-ending threat of a government takeover of health care.”
“Washington is broken, and people do not believe sending another politician to Congress will fix anything. It’s very clear that independent voters are rejecting the status quo. They are looking for something different, and that’s exactly what Linda’s candidacy offers.”
The well-funded campaign has tried, in general, to seal off McMahon from reporters. Rather than alert the press to public events, even after repeated requests, it often posts YouTube videos after the fact and distributes the link to the media instead.
On Thursday, Seymour resident Al Yagovane repeatedly asked McMahon about her views of outsourcing American jobs to foreign countries — a practice that helped to kill the once thriving manufacturing base of the lower Valley.
McMahon said that incentives have to be in place to make American job creation and retention appealing to corporations.
“It’s not jobs created through stimulus money, those are temporary jobs.” McMahon said. “If we get the money to the private sector, those are the self-sustaining jobs.”
McMahon’s WWE has had its share of economic ups and downs over the years.
Some of that money comes from selling merchandising and licensing rights to corporations such as Mattel. The last of Mattel’s U.S. factories closed in 2002. A reporter raised that question, with additional questions from Yagovane.
McMahon said she can’t speak for WWE’s current licensing policies, as she has stepped down from her position there to commit to the Senate race.
Furthermore, the WWE has no say in how or where Mattel operates, she said.
McMahon said she would be interested in legislation that created enticing incentives for any company to bring operations back to the United States.
She also noted that when the WWE performs abroad, all of the profits come back to the company.
Follow-up questions were shut down by McMahon’s press person, saying the candidate had to talk to other people in the room.
Yagovane said her answers to his questions about outsourcing were somewhat generic and that he wasn’t entirely satisfied.
During her speech, McMahon said she sees the road to recovery in supporting small businesses. She advocates incentives and tax cuts to help foster growth.
If she is nominated by the Republicans and wins the November election, McMahon wants to investigate forcing the federal government to pass a balanced budget, much as some states have written into their bylaws and constitutions.
“If I got that done in six years,” McMahon said, “I’d walk away with my hands in the air saying that is a huge accomplishment.”
McMahon’s position in the race as a non-politician serves as a drawing point for some.
Michael Krenesky, a member of the Beacon Falls Board of Selectmen, has attended three of her Republican Town Committee presentations across the state.
“It’s not her intention to be a career politician,” Krenesky said.