Updated at 11:29 a.m.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., hit the campaign trail with former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon in Connecticut's Senate race, and was joined by two Republicans McMahon beat in bitter primaries. But her vanquished opponents weren't exactly effusive in praising their former rival: The nicest thing they could muster was the sentiment that McMahon could actually win the race against Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy, which has looked unexpectedly close in some recent polls.
Rob Simmons, who lost to McMahon in the 2010 GOP Senate primary, and former Rep. Chris Shays, who she beat this summer, per the Hartford Courant:
"I respect the outcome of the election,'' said Shays, who lost a bitter primary to McMahon in August. Asked if he thinks McMahon is qualified, Shays said he believes Murphy is "incredibly vulnerable."
Simmons, who lost an equally hard-fought race against McMahon in 2010, had been critical of her approach to politics and her habit of skipping out on editorial-board meetings. But on Monday, pointing to polls showing a tight contest in a state where Democrats hold an overwhelming edge in voter registration, he said that McMahon's approach is yielding results this year.
And here's some more Simmons, from the Associated Press
"She's the Republican candidate, right," asked Simmons, when questioned why he was now backing McMahon. He is also scheduled to appear with her at a rally in Mystic on Wednesday.
While he criticized McMahon's campaigning style in the past, such as avoiding interviews with newspaper editorial boards, Simmons acknowledged that McMahon's approach seems to be working.
"Different candidates do it different ways," he said, later adding, "she spoke without notes, which I think is a positive development."
McCain had previously endorsed Shays in the contest. We've noted before that Shays was not a McMahon fan, and that after the primary he said
he didn't respect the way she ran the race. Murphy was expected to win easily in Democratic-leaning Connecticut, but the race has looked close recently and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been on the air in the state.