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Simmons to 'scale back' campaign

From NBC's Mark Murray
In a speech today, Connecticut Senate candidate Rob Simmons (R) said he was scaling back his campaign, essentially ceding the GOP primary contest to Linda McMahon, who won the state GOP convention on Friday.

That would set up a general election contest between McMahon and Richard Blumenthal (D) for Chris Dodd's (D) Senate seat.

Simmons said, "Speaking for myself and my family ... we understand the mathematical reality of competing against an opponent with unlimited financial resources who has already invested over 16 and a half million dollars in this campaign - by far more than any senate candidate in the country - and who has an unlimited ability to continue spending at an extraordinary rate."
 
More Simmons: "On this basis we have decided, reluctantly and prayerfully, to scale back the campaign. We will release staff to pursue other opportunities and curtail campaign activities. This is not an easy decision or a happy decision. But we believe it is the right decision."

A Republican source observing the race says that, by scaling back, Simmons' campaign will cease completely, but he's remaining on the ballot because of the volatility in the race -- on both the GOP and Democratic sides. 

Below is the entire speech...

"For the past sixteen months my family has been actively engaged in a campaign to bring a Connecticut Republican to the U.S. Senate this November. We have been joined in this endeavor by an Army of donors, volunteers and well wishers, a solid array of party leaders and an extraordinarily talented campaign staff.

"We all felt strongly that I had the experience, qualifications and opportunity to be that Connecticut Republican Senate candidate. On this basis we set as an important goal to win the Republican Nomination at the Convention on May 21st. We fell just short of that goal last Friday.

"For some time now I have expressed the hope that all the Connecticut Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate would agree to unite behind the convention winner to avoid a divisive and expensive primary. No one accepted the challenge. The Simmons for Senate campaign has every right to proceed with a primary challenge based on our convention record of winning 46% of the vote.

"Speaking for myself and my family, however, we understand the mathematical reality of competing against an opponent with unlimited financial resources who has already invested over 16 and a half million dollars in this campaign - by far more than any senate candidate in the country - and who has an unlimited ability to continue spending at an extraordinary rate.

"On this basis we have decided, reluctantly and prayerfully, to scale back the campaign. We will release staff to pursue other opportunities and curtail campaign activities. This is not an easy decision or a happy decision. But we believe it is the right decision.

"In my life of public service - in the U.S. Army, the CIA, the U.S. Senate Staff and, yes, even in elective politics - I have always tried to put the public good ahead of private gain. It is this sense of service above self, nurtured in my early days as a young soldier in Vietnam, has been my motivating force for the past 40 years. That is what motivates me to make this decision now.

"As a party endorsed candidate in ten races under the Connecticut Republican banner, and a winner of eight, I can never fully thank the many good people who have supported me over the years. They include members of my own party as well as Independents and Democrats, all of whom have come together across party lines with a sense of working for the common good of the people we serve.

"I can never repay my family and friends, near and far, who have been with me under the most trying circumstances, and who have shared in the thrilling victories and the agonizing defeats.

"While my name will remain on the primary ballot, in the coming months I will devote myself to helping other Republican candidates for public office who I believe will bring to Connecticut and the Nation the leadership we need at this most difficult time