A new campaign ad for Gov. Dannel Malloy features an endorsement from the mother of a boy killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, prompting criticism from the chairman of the state Republican party, Jerry Labriola, Jr., who called Malloy "desperate" and accused him of using the tragedy for political gain in a statement released Monday.
Neither Republican candidate for governor, Tom Foley or John McKinney, would comment on the ad Tuesday, and Malloy himself said his handling of Sandy Hook is part of his identity as governor.
"I have a record. It's a record I'm proud of, having faced five natural disaster declarations, and Sandy Hook," Malloy explained. "And people need – or I would ask – that they put it all in context."
In the ad, Sandy Hook mom Nicole Hockley endorses Malloy for the gun control law he signed after the 2012 tragedy.
"Gov. Malloy has the courage and conviction to stand up and do the right thing," Hockley says in the ad.
The campaign ad shows Malloy talking with police, not with parents or children, a distinction Quinnipiac University political science professor Scott McLean said keeps the ad short of exploiting a tragedy.
"It's interesting what she doesn't say as much as what she does say," McLean said. "She doesn't say, 'Dan Malloy comforted me' or 'came to my aid'. She says he was a tough fighter."