The Silver Lining of the Michael Steele Afghanistan Comments

Oddly enough, Michael Steele may have done Republicans a favor by claiming the war in Afghanistan was started by President Obama.


He made those comments last night in Connecticut, at a fundraiser for the state party at Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in Noank. There was another reason to pay attention to this fundraiser, which no one is talking about because of Steele: it was cohosted by former Rep. Rob Simmons, and his former Senate primary foe, Linda McMahon, was also slated to attend.

Here's why that's interesting. For all intents and purposes, the Connecticut Senate race has moved into general election mode, but speculation has lingered that Simmons, though he suspended his campaign in May, is hanging around and hoping to steal the Republican nomination from McMahon, the former CEO of the WWE. His name will still appear on the ballot in the August primary, along with McMahon's and that of insurgent candidate (and, I'm told, Tea Party favorite) Peter Schiff. McMahon suggested in an interview with Hotline OnCall's Reid Wilson that Simmons might be running a stealth campaign against her. Simmons and McMahon don't seem to like each other; Simmons told The National Review, shortly after he suspended his campaign following a defeat to McMahon at the state GOP convention, that he wouldn't endorse McMahon and didn't think she could win. (He later apologized to Politico.) His campaign highlighted some cutting opposition research about McMahon's tenure at WWE, and all the sleazy stuff WWE's wrestling/entertainment regime encompasses.

Which would make Simmons' and McMahon's co-appearance at a state GOP fundraiser a bit awkward, if not quite a major story.

No one is really talking about that, or the smoldering bitterness of the Connecticut Republican Senate primary, thanks to Michael Steele.

Then again, Steele's comments don't exactly help Republicans in Connecticut, either. McMahon is running an outsider campaign, and the last thing she needs is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, the party's top establishment official, making headlines in her state.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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