[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/16/art.blumenthal.file.gi.jpg caption="Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is running for Senate in Connecticut."](CNN) - The frontrunners for the Republican Senate nomination in Connecticut are pouncing on the Democratic frontrunner, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, for hedging on whether he plans to invite President Obama to campaign with him.
Blumenthal, who jumped into the race after Sen. Chris Dodd announced he will not seek another term, was asked about a possible Obama appearance after speaking Monday to the Yale College Democrats in New Haven.
Chatting with reporters, Blumenthal called Obama "someone who I deeply respect and admire," but said he has differences with the president, according to the Associated Press. Blumenthal said he has not decided whether to ask the president to campaign for him.
"I haven't presumed to ask," he said, according to the AP. "I don't know whether he would and I don't know whether we would ask. At this point it is an open question."
Blumenthal's GOP opponents, former Rep. Rob Simmons and former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, circulated the comments to reporters and said the Democrat is eager to distance himself from an unpopular president.
"After decades of toeing the party line and supporting liberal policies, Richard Blumenthal's new found independence shows, like other Democrats, he knows his party's tax and spend agenda has failed to deliver and voters will be looking for change in November," Simmons spokesman Raj Shah said in an e-mail to CNN. "They will have a choice between Blumenthal's election-year rhetoric or Rob Simmons proven record of fighting for lower taxes, less government and a strong national defense."
And this, from McMahon spokesman Ed Patru: "The messages Linda has been driving in this campaign as an outsider are resonating and catching fire with voters, so it should be no surprise that Dick Blumenthal is parroting her messages and distancing himself from his party."
Blumenthal held a commanding lead in hypothetical match-ups against Simmons and McMahon in a Quinnipiac poll from mid-January.