KELLY C. CATALFAMO Special to The Day
Charlotte, N.C. - Echoing Democratic Party leaders, the Connecticut delegation Tuesday drew sharp contrasts between the Democratic and Republican candidates for public office, focusing on key issues such as the economy, abortion and health care.
"This is our chance to make it very clear why our candidate is very different from Mitt Romney," said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday morning. His appearance on the talk show was only the beginning of a day packed with speaking events.
He will address the convention at 6:45 tonight. Malloy has released little information about his speech, but he has said that he does not intend to talk about himself, as he claims many speakers did at last week's Republican National Convention.
Malloy said he is also concerned about the race between Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy for retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman's seat, which he believes is going to be close.
"I will work like the dickens to support (Murphy)," he said.
Like Malloy, the state delegation in Charlotte is not only highlighting the differences between the presidential candidates, but also those between their home state's candidates for Senate.
Talking to delegation members over breakfast Tuesday morning, former Sen. Chris Dodd delivered a brief speech in which he asserted that Americans are better off today than they were four years ago as a result of President Obama's policies on health care and the economy. But Dodd also took time to voice his support for Murphy, saying Murphy has demonstrated "how strong he is on issues we care about … not as Democrats, but as Americans."
Dodd said Lieberman's seat was "not for sale," a reference to McMahon spending millions of her own money on the campaign. That received enthusiastic applause from Connecticut's delegates.
Erika West, a representative of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which previously had endorsed Murphy, also addressed the delegates Tuesday morning. She discussed the importance of providing information about where the candidates stand on women's issues. West said the congressional delegation from Connecticut might cease to be "100 percent pro-choice" if McMahon were elected.
West is worried, she said, that voters might be "confused" and think that "just because Linda McMahon is a woman, she has us in mind."
"The U.S. Senate seat is very critical for us," said Connecticut delegate Shiela Hayes, a community activist from Norwich. After West's speech, Hayes described the prospect of a McMahon win as "devastating."
"There could be no greater contrast between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney than on reproductive rights," West said. The Democratic platform states that they "oppose any and all efforts" to undermine the rights outlined in Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, the Republican platform states, "The unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed."
Delegate Joyce Petteway, former alderman of Waterbury, said she hoped to see the women of her party address what she called "women being attacked by the GOP" for the past several months.
"Rosa, and any other woman who is speaking, should really change their conversation to be about women," she said, referencing the brief comments U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd, was scheduled to make Tuesday evening.
While the few moments DeLauro had on stage were devoted to the wage discrepancy between women and men, another official did address Petteway's concerns.
"I trust women," Malloy said in an energetic speech delivered to the Connecticut delegation Tuesday night. "I trust my wife, I trust my mother-in-law, I trust my daughter.
"The case that gave rise to the right of privacy in our nation, that was decided many years ago, is now threatened by Republicans, threatened by their platform, threatened by their ideals, because they are threatened by women. And I stand with women every single day."