As the Aug. 14 primary approaches, two heavy-hitters on their respective campaign trails seeking the Republican nod to run for U.S. Senate in Connecticut stopped by the Stamford Atria Wednesday afternoon to briefly speak and take questions from residents there.
Chris Shays and Linda McMahon took roughly 15 minutes each to share personal stories with the residents of the assisted living facility after there was some confusion between both camps about who was supposed to be there. To accomodate both groups, Shays went first, hustled to the elevator and then McMahon joined the room by coming out of a side door.
The two weren't supposted cross paths, but not everything goes according to plan. Shays had to momentarily run back into the room to grab something he'd forgotten, and McMahon tried to talk through the interuption by filling everyone in on their background, going "back a long time." They shook hands and Chris waved to her before disappearing again.
Through different personal stories, each candidate brought the audience around to their own ideas of bringing the country back to it's former greatness through change neither believed the current administration was going to be able to handle itself.
"I want my country back," Shays said. "I want my precious, forward-thinking country back."
The former Congressman said the numbers the country was facing today just weren't adding up to the successes of previous generations. Fifteen million people unemployed and growth as low as 1.8-percent was not normal, he said. Normal was 4 percent growth every year, so a country's economy effectively doubles every 18 years. A $100 billion deficit was much more normal than a $1 trillion deficit, he said.
"That was the idea I grew up with: 'Welcome to America, where every generation will be better than the last,'" Shays said. "That's our birth-right."
McMahon shared her story of love, strong values and eventually her family's financial difficulties as proof that she understood the issues facing many families today. She said she grew up in a small house her parents built, a house well within their means.
McMahon said a bad business decision she and a young Vince McMahon made investing in a quarry business left them in bankruptcy and foreclosure and forced them to have to watch their own budding life together shut down or towed away.
"There's no other candidate from Connecticut in this race with that type of experience," McMahon said, and explained she understood the issues facing the middle class because of that experience. "We have to have tax cuts for the middle class. We have to get our small businesses back. We need to stop the runaway spending in Washington."
Shays pointed out three main issues in his proposal to get the country back on track from the derailment he claims it now faces.
- The government spends too much.
- The country needs to start utilizing the financial goldmine it possesses in its natural gas, saying others call the United States the "Saudi Arabia of natural gas."
- The tax code needs to be simplified.
"I would like to see the country blossom," Shays said. He also reassured those present "no one is touching your social security, Medicare or Medicaid," and said fear-mongerers had been using that as a scare-tactic to herd people to certain ideals.
McMahon wanted to:
- Preserve the Bush tax cuts
- Expand tax cuts to introduce new, additional savings for the middle class
- "Roll back regulations choking small businesses."
McMahon also touched on health care, saying she would have voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act because it introduces "21 new taxes or tax increases," but that she thinks health care should be portable, affordable, accessible and high-quality.
Senior benefits, she assured those present, would be well-preserved,
"I'm going to protect social security, none of you are going to have your benefits taken away," she said.
Each also touched on bipartisanship and essentially said reaching across the aisle and finding common ground on which to build a stronger system of government would be the only way the country would continue to succeed.