The race for U.S. Senate in Connecticut is shaping up to be a referendum on President Trump.
While Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy has become a vocal critic of Trump’s policies, Republican challenger Matthew Corey told NBC Connecticut the state needs a senator who will be more willing to work with the Trump administration.
“Whether you agree with the administration or not, we need someone in Washington that will work with this administration, there’s too much federal funds and too many needs in Connecticut like crumbling foundations and infrastructure needs,” Corey said.
On the final Friday before Election Day, Murphy went for a walking tour of businesses on New Haven’s Whalley Avenue.
“I want to make sure everybody here understands the stakes of this election,” Murphy said. “Here in New Haven people are very disappointed with President Trump, they’re really sickened about how he’s chosen to end this campaign by trying to divide us from each other”
The senator stopped at Greg Simpkins’ barbershop.
“I like the way he fights for us,” Simpkins said. “I always see him, there’s an issue we have in this state, he goes down and fights.”
In Enfield, Corey met with supporters at Bosco’s auto repair shop.
“I resonate with them because I’m a small business owner, blue collar worker,” Corey said.
Co-owner Joe Bosco said he wants a U.S. senator who will be supportive of the president.
“Here in Connecticut, we’re never going to get nothing,” Bosco said. “You may like the man or hate man, you have to work the man and you can’t be beating him up all the time because he’s going to give the money somewhere else.”
Leading up to the midterm elections, the president has made immigration a central issue, claiming he can eliminate birthright citizenship with an executive order.
“The president doesn’t care about the Constitution,” Murphy said. “The idea that he’s going to change it by executive order is nonsense, that executive order would be overturned by the courts within about five minutes.”
“I think we need to look at birthright citizenship,” Corey told NBC Connecticut. “You should have some stake in our country, not just people that come over here to have a baby and say look hey I’m part of the community, I’m part of society.”
Murphy said health care is the top issue on the minds of Connecticut’s voters.
“People are really fearful that President Trump is going to take away their health care, put the insurance companies back in charge of their health care, take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” Murphy said.
“The Affordable Care Act has made it unaffordable for a lot of small business owners like myself,” Corey said, “I believe the president is on the right track.”
Since being elected six years ago, Murphy has become a national leader in the push for more gun safety laws.
“We know that sensible gun laws work here in Connecticut,” Murphy said. “We’ve seen a sharp reduction in gun murders in this state and it’s because we have universal background checks. We make sure everybody who buys a gun isn’t a criminal and we need other states to do the same thing, I think we can pass that next year if democrats do very well.”
Corey said he does not think it is necessary to “make law abiding citizens go through more hoops and hurdles to enjoy their second amendment rights.”
“We need to focus on is more mental illness, we need to focus how hostile the media is who is fueling these people with mental illness,” Corey added.
NBC Connecticut asked Corey if there are areas where he disagrees with President Trump.
“Yeah a lot of the tariffs I don’t agree with,” Corey said, “but I think those are bargaining chips, he’s bringing countries to the table, if that’s the means we have to do it that’s great.”
Both Corey and Murphy said they plan to make joint campaign stops over the next few days with their party’s candidates for governor.
“I don’t know if there’s going to be a blue wave or not,” Murphy said. “I just think here in Connecticut folks understand that Donald Trump isn’t good for our state and that Bob Stefanowksi, the Republican candidate for governor gives Donald Trump an A rating. I don’t think that squares with Connecticut values.”