GREENWICH, Conn. -- Greenwich's Linda McMahon may have built her career on fights in the wrestling ring, but there was a feeling of reconciliation in the air as she was joined by two former political rivals when she appeared before the U.S. Senate for her confirmation hearing to become the head of the Small Business Administration.
McMahon is the co-founder of the Stamford-based WWE and former Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. She was tapped by President Donald Trump in December to become SBA chief in the new administration.
She was introduced before the hearing by Connecticut's two Democratic senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, who both defeated her in her two senate runs in 2010 and 2012, respectively. The former rivals put aside their differences to recommend McMahon for the post.
“I recommend her because I think she would be an excellent fit for this agency based on her experience and her expertise as a business leader,” Blumenthal said. “She is a tireless leader and a tenacious fighter. Her professional life has been about building businesses. She has started and struggled in the entrepreneurial trenches, meeting payroll, hiring and firing, and working hard for a vision. We’ve known our share of differences, but I have never questioned her unwavering drive and focus.”
Murphy joined Blumenthal in his praise of McMahon's business record.
“This visual is going to be a little amusing and surprising to folks in Connecticut who watched the three of us duke it out over two long senate campaigns," Murphy said. "But you know what, politics can’t work if political grudges never die, and political adversaries have to find a way to work together after the fight is over. And I’m here to support Linda not because we’ve magically become one mind on how we approach every problem this country faces, but because I have confidence that she is going to give good, sound counsel to President Trump when it comes to policy affecting small businesses, and I believe she has the passion for this job that’s vital.”
In her remarks, McMahon touted her experience as a business owner. She said that having launched her own business, as well as having helped others launch business through her organization Women's Leadership LIVE, she understands the struggles and challenges that small business owners face, which would allow her to better help them as head of the SBA.
"As an entrepreneur myself, I have shared the experiences of our nation's small business owners. We are more than our products and services. We are people. We are families," she said. "If I have the honor of being confirmed as the head of the SBA, I will do my best to advocate on their behalf."
She added that while campaigning for her two senate runs, she traveled around Connecticut and learned more about what concerns small business owners have. One thing she said she learned is that there isn’t necessarily a shortage of jobs, but rather a shortage of trained people for the jobs that exist.
“I think we have to refocus how we are looking at the jobs market. Sitting on the board of trustees at Sacred Heart I took a look at some of the educational programs that we have and ask, are we reaching out to our corporations and our companies that surround our university to understand what kind of shifts or changes we need to make in order to fulfill that employment strain?”
“And I think we’re starting to be a little more successful in that, but we have a long way to go and that’s one of the things I’ve really committed to, even before I was asked to do this. But I’d like to continue to make sure we are training our folks for the jobs that are out there.”
McMahon was joined at her confirmation hearing Tuesday by daughter Stephanie McMahon and son-in-law Paul Levesque, aka wrestler Triple H. U.S. Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) both made jokes about Levesque in their remarks, with Scott declaring himself a wrestling fan and Booker offering to help Levesque get in shape at the senate gym.