MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy kicked off a statewide tour of businesses Monday as part of his U.S. Senate campaign, saying that unlike a Republican rival, he wants to gather ideas from employers and employees as he travels Connecticut.
Murphy said his tour is different because he plans to do a lot of listening and not tell companies and their workers what he thinks needs to be done in Washington to improve job growth.
"Listen, I haven't been around politics for very long, but I have watched a lot of candidates or elected officials who think that just by stopping by a business for an hour, that they've demonstrated they know what it takes to get jobs started here in Connecticut," said Murphy, a former state legislator who has represented the 5th Congressional District seat since 2007.
Murphy toured Ad Chem Manufacturing Technologies in Manchester, which manufacturers and repairs jet engine and helicopter parts.
Asked if he was trying to contrast himself with the endorsed Republican candidate for Senate, former wrestling executive Linda McMahon, Murphy said he thinks "there are going to be a lot of contrasts" between himself and McMahon. She unveiled a jobs plan earlier this year that includes tax cuts for the middle class and a reduction in the corporate income tax rate.
One of them may be," he said, "that I'm going to be doing a lot more listening than talking in the course of this campaign."
Murphy criticized McMahon's plan for including "a fairly dramatic cut to education funding," something he said would "be a disaster." But McMahon's plan, posted on her campaign website, does not mention a specific cut in education. Rather, it proposes a 1 percent reduction in federal spending, but not necessarily across-the-board reductions. McMahon has said there would be some spending priorities, such as defense.
"Not only does Congressman Murphy not have a jobs or education plan, he's never actually had a real job," said Erin Isaac, McMahon's campaign spokeswoman. "While he's learning about real jobs this week, he may want to take some time to actually read Linda's jobs plan. When he does, he'll realize his statement today was categorically false."
Asked where he believed McMahon was cutting education in her plan, Murphy contended that McMahon was calling for "an across-the-board cut in federal funding" and that he hadn't seen "any mention in McMahon's plan" to increase education funding.
"If you don't have a jobs plan that calls for increases in education and job training, than you don't have a jobs plan," Murphy said.
Murphy laid out several "pillars" of his jobs plan, including a fairer tax code, eliminating federal tax on purchases of new machinery, increasing federal funding for education and infrastructure, and extending the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone but the wealthiest taxpayers and using that money to pay down debt and provide more college scholarship aid.
McMahon's campaign referred to Murphy's jobs tour as "campaign schtick" in a statement to reporters. It listed a number of votes, where the campaign accuses Murphy of voting against limiting "job-killing regulations" and voting to raise taxes on businesses.
Both Murphy and McMahon face primary challenges on Aug. 14. Former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz is competing against Murphy for the Democratic nomination, while former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays is McMahon's opponent for the GOP nod.
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