Will McMahon’s Minimum Wage Gaffe Be a Supermarket Scanner Moment?

The DSCC has secured an ad buy in Connecticut, where they thought they wouldn’t have to pay attention to the race between Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) and WWE executive Linda McMahon (R). This $250,000 ad buy – with more likely to come – starves other candidates of potential resources. West Virginia, where the DSCC just dropped some money, also fits into this category.

But Democrats may have just caught a break in Connecticut. McMahon, appearing at a news conference that she abruptly shut down, made comments about the minimum wage that are a gift for her opponents to paint her as out of touch:

Republican Linda McMahon accepted the endorsement of a prominent business interest lobby on Thursday, but her campaign staff abruptly shut down a press conference in which McMahon was asked to explain whether she agreed with all of the organization’s positions.

Most notably, McMahon said she believed Congress should consider lowering the federal minimum wage in times of economic distress for small businesses, such as the current recession.

“The minimum wage now in our country, I think we’ve set that and a lot of people have benefited from it in our country, but I think we ought to review how much it ought to be, and whether or not we ought to have increases in the minimum wage,” McMahon said […]

“I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them?” McMahon said. “I think we should get input from our business community. We should listen to our small business operators, and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it’s impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions.”

McMahon’s campaign tried some serious damage control, rushing out a video press release where she said she did not favor eliminating minimum wage increases completely. But perhaps the most damaging part of the event, for McMahon, was when she claimed that she “didn’t know if anyone at World Wrestling Entertainment, the company of which she was CEO until her campaign began, is paid the minimum wage.” She didn’t appear to even know how much it was in Connecticut.

Democrats in Connecticut have seized on the comments.

“We were shocked to learn that Linda McMahon supports lowering the minimum wage,” said Jon Green, executive director of the Working Families Party, which announced its endorsement of Blumenthal today.

“Making low-wage workers poorer is her idea to improve the economy? That’s both foolish and cruel, and not something we’d expect from a serious candidate. We should all be outraged.”

“It is outrageous that multi-millionaire McMahon is open to reducing the minimum wage, and mind boggling that she doesn’t even know how much it is. We have said from the very beginning that multi-millionaire McMahon is not looking out for the working people of this state and she certainly proved it again today,” said John Olsen, Connecticut AFL-CIO president. “Multi-millionaire McMahon doesn’t have to try and live on $8.25 an hour like working families across Connecticut do. Maybe if she stepped out of her gilded lifestyle for a moment she would stop trying to jam the bottom line of big businesses into the back of working families.”

At My Left Nutmeg, ctblogger paid attention to the fact that McMahon appeared to put McDonald’s in the category of small businesses:

LM: In the new health care law, we’re looking at a lot of mandates that are going to come into play for small businesses and we ought to not put them into effect because they can not afford them at this time.

Look at what McDonalds said this morning. McDonalds just said this morning that they just said that they may not cover their employees because it’s just too expensive and they might just pay the fine. Those are the kinds of mandates that are made without the understanding of the consequences on businesses…

I addressed the McDonald’s story earlier today.

In the 1992 election, George H.W. Bush was hounded by an incident at a National Grocers Association convention in Orlando, Florida, where he appeared not to know what a supermarket scanner was. Connecticut Democrats will try to paint McMahon as similarly out of touch with the concerns of working Americans.

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David Dayen

David Dayen