In front of a crowd of thousands at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy unleashed a verbal assault Wednesday on the fiscal policies embraced by the Republican presidential ticket.
Malloy took the stage just after 7 p.m., followed by party luminaries such as U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73, who delivered the night’s keynote address. In addition to lauding Democrats’ efforts to enfranchise minorities, Malloy reiterated his critique of the budget proposal spearheaded by GOP vice-presidential nominee U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, calling the plan “harsh,” “radical” and “wrong.”
“It would shred the safety net that protects the middle class and those striving to get there,” Malloy said in a speech that reflected his rising stature among national Democrats. “It would undermine FDR’s New Deal, unravel Harry Truman’s Fair Deal and leave us with Mitt Romney’s Raw Deal.”
Scott McClean, an associate professor of Political Science at Quinnipiac University and attendee at this year’s convention, characterized Malloy’s critique of Ryan as a demand that the country “beef up fiscally,” yet “still pursue a progressive agenda.”
The governor also denounced “systemic” Republican efforts to “disenfranchise millions” of minority voters and “undermine the fairness” of November’s presidential election through voter ID laws — such as those in Texas and New Hampshire. Connecticut has made progress in promoting voter enfranchisement, he said, referring to a law passed in May that allows for voters to register on Election Day.
“There is a high immigrant and minority population in New Haven and it is such a struggle to get them to vote, especially with additional barriers placed in front of people,” said Ward 10 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10. “It is great to have [Malloy] highlight Connecticut’s efforts on a national stage.”
As one of the earlier speakers in the night’s 56-person lineup, Malloy was charged with the task of “providing a clear and concise summary of the Democratic platform” rather than speaking to his own experience as governor, McClean said.
Malloy did not snag a prime-time televised speaking slot and his speech was instead streamed live online. Nevertheless, such publicity on the national stage will be “hugely important” for Connecticut Democrats looking to garner support for Chris Murphy, the Democratic nominee in the state’s November Senate election, according to Yale political science professor David Cameron.
“He’s good, effective and tough, and he’s going to remobilize the Democrats sitting on their hands now,” Cameron said. “He can get a crowd energized.”
Nicole Hobbs ’14, elections coordinator for the Yale College Democrats and a Branford, Conn., native, was among those watching Wednesday. She applauded Malloy for discussing the national Democratic agenda rather than presenting himself and his own policies for future prominence in the party.
“Gov. Malloy understands the importance of the choice that this country is going to make,” Hobbs said. “It’s crucial that he highlight President [Barack] Obama’s record at a time when voters need that information.”
Thomas Dec ’13, a member of the Connecticut delegation in Charlotte and a Wilton, Conn., resident, expressed his pride in seeing his governor address the crowd from the audience on the convention floor. A Connecticut governor at the DNC is indeed a rare sight: Malloy is the first Democratic leader of the state since 1991.
“The native Nutmeggers in our delegation were amazed that he not only spoke on behalf of Connecticut, but also on behalf of the broader American public,” Dec said.
Predictably, though, Malloy’s message did not please all Yalies.
Alex Crutchfield ’15, the Yale Political Union’s floor leader of the right, said he was dissatisfied with Malloy’s “partisan tone.” Crutchfield contrasted Malloy’s address with that of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who called out politicians on both sides of the aisle for “not acting as leaders” and took on a “post-partisan” tone at the Republican National Convention last week.
“Malloy is the anti-Christie,” Cameron said.
Malloy and Christie have become rivals of sorts since they came to office in fall 2010, especially in light of their simultaneous and tactically different efforts to extract concessions from powerful public employee unions in their states.
The Democratic National Convention, which was drawn more than 4,000 delegates to Charlotte, runs through tonight, when Obama will deliver a speech accepting his party’s nomination.