McMahon, Blumenthal offer views on domestic issues
Jobs and the economy may be priorities on the campaign trail, but Connecticut's next U.S. senator will likely have to grapple with a variety of hot-button domestic social issues during the next six years.
On abortion, Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Linda label themselves pro-choice, although McMahon makes exceptions that helped her win over more conservative Republicans during the GOP's May nominating convention and August primary.
McMahon declined an interview for this story, but her spokesman, Ed Patru, in e-mailed responses to several questions, wrote: "She opposes partial-birth abortion and federal funding of abortions unless the life of the mother is at stake.
She is in favor of parental notification/parental consent legislation with protections in place for instances of incest."
Blumenthal's views have earned him the endorsements of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League's Pro-Choice America, whose president, Nancy Keenan, in late September referred to McMahon as an untested wild card.
"I have a record," Blumenthal, current attorney general and a former state legislator, said Friday.
"My career over almost three decades " reflects strong and active support of a women's right to choose based on my deeply held belief that it is grounded in a constitutional right to privacy.
Blumenthal said while he recognizes the difficulty of the issue, he opposes parental notification because he believes it would inhibit the right to choose.
"I've seen cases of incest and abuse," he said.
As attorney general Blumenthal in 2006 was forced to defend Connecticut's civil unions law when eight gay couples challenged it as unconstitutional in a bid to legalize gay marriage.
The state Supreme Court ruled in the couples' favor in 2008.
Same sex marriage
Asked Friday if he supports same sex marriage, Blumenthal said, "I'm responsible for enforcing the current law, I support it and the current law is there is a right to same sex marriage."
Blumenthal added "issues concerning marriage are best left to the states" rather than the federal government. But he declined to weigh in on whether voters should have the opportunity through constitutional referendums to reverse such rulings, as was the case in California.
"There are arguments pro and con on the California referendum system," Blumenthal said. "I don't think I can address it in the context of marriage."
McMahon also believes recognition of gay marriage is a state's prerogative. Asked if McMahon supports same-sex marriage, Patru said, "Linda supports Connecticut law."
But he added: "She is a strong proponent that laws should reflect the voice of the people through the ballot box and their elected representatives and not the opinions of unelected judges."
Don't ask, don't tell
Both McMahon and Blumenthal support a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policies barring gay personnel from serving openly.
U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut recently spearheaded a failed attempt at a repeal in Congress.
Republicans blocked the measure, arguing it was premature while the Pentagon studies the impact. But Lieberman's proposal would not have gone into effect until after that review was concluded.
On the question of whether McMahon agreed with congressional Republicans, Patru said, "Linda believes an individual who is willing and able to serve, should have the right to serve, regardless of sexual orientation. She supports responsible repeal of `don't ask, don't tell.'"
Blumenthal said he would have voted for repeal had he been a member of the Senate and will work toward that end if elected.
"I can't speculate on what the military might say after its study, but I would doubt that there would be serious objections in light of the positions already taken by some of the senior generals and other Pentagon officials," he said.
On the topic of immigration reform, the two candidates said they understand why Arizona, frustrated with a lack of enforcement from Washington, took controversial unilateral actions.
But Blumenthal said, "a state-by-state patchwork is not the solution to a problem that really needs to be addressed nationally and comprehensively."
He supports stronger enforcement of the borders and of laws against the hiring of illegals and increased penalties for those employers that do.
"I am not in favor of general amnesty," Blumenthal said. "If we are going to grant citizenship to people here illegally now there should be tough requirements such as criminal background checks, full payment of back taxes, familiarity with certain basic civics " Anyone who is here illegally should, in effect, go to the back of the line. And there would be a period they would have to wait."
Patru said McMahon opposes amnesty and proposes: fulfilling and strengthening federal commitments to boarder security and interior enforcement; requiring electronic Social Security cards to make it easier for employers to verify whether a worker is legal or illegal; streamlining the process for permitting temporary workers if needed in an industry by creating new visa categories; and shifting green card and citizenship requirements to a more merit-based system.
"We have historically welcomed the best workers and the best minds from every country, and she believes we should continue to do so provided it is done legally," Patru said.