Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) ratcheted up his criticism of Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) ahead of a potential 2010 Senate matchup, asserting Dodd vacated his responsibilities as chairman of the Banking Committee.

Simmons said Dodd's intensive but unsuccessful presidential campaign in Iowa at least in part affected the current financial crisis facing the U.S.

"I spent four years of my life as a staff director on the Senate Intelligence Committee working for [Sen. Barry] Goldwater (R-Ariz.) and [Sen. Daniel Patrick] Moynihan (D-N.Y.)," Simmons said during an appearance on Connecticut Public Television's "On the Record" program. "At no time in those four years did they simply take off for anything other than a medical emergency."

"For him [Dodd] to vacate those responsibilities to run for president and, in fact, move to Iowa had to have had some impact," Simmons continued, calling Dodd's Iowa presence "a slap in the face to the people of Connecticut."

Appearing a week after Dodd had been on the same program, Simmons said he had accelerated his challenge to Dodd after a Quinnipiac poll emerged showing him neck-and-neck with the longtime senator.

The former Republican congressman said he is in the process of hiring a staff as well, preparing for a possible primary battle, and raising the $5 million he has targeted for this race.

Visit the CPTV website to watch the interview with Simmons in its entirety.