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McMahon campaign says they ‘fed’ Blumenthal story to New York Times, then backs away from claim

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      Jon Ward

      Jon Ward covers the White House and national politics for The Daily Caller. He covered the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency and the first year of Barack Obama's presidency for The Washington Times. Prior to moving to national politics, Jon worked for the Times' city desk and bureaus in Virginia and Maryland, covering local news and politics, including the D.C. sniper shootings and subsequent trial, before moving to state politics in Maryland. He and his wife have two children and live on Capitol Hill. || <a href="mailto:jw@dailycaller.com">Email Jon</a>

UPDATE – 12:26 p.m. – The McMahon campaign has pulled the Rennie blog post off their site, in an apparent attempt to backtrack from the claim that they gave the story to the Times. A McMahon spokesman has not yet responded to a request for comment on why they did so.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee went after McMahon hard, saying she had pulled the content off her site “likely because this is an extension of her history of making up stories.”

“As a corporate executive for WWF [sic], Linda McMahon created fictional storylines for entertainment, often blurring the lines between theater and real violence in the ring,” said DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz.

Schultz added this parting shot: “Just like she peddled today’s story, she has spent years peddling violence to kids.”

*****

Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon is wasting no time trying to capitalize on the devastating New York Times piece that broke Monday night detailing Democrat Richard Blumenthal’s misleading statements about his service in the military.

The McMahon campaign is saying they gave the story to the New York Times, according to a blog post written by a former Republican state lawmaker that the campaign has posted on their website.

The post, written by Kevin Rennie, who writes for the Hartford Courant and RealClearPolitics in addition to on his blog, says the Times story was “fed to the paper by the Linda McMahon Senate campaign.”

“The Blumenthal Bombshell comes at the end of more than 2 months of deep, persistent research by Republican Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign. It gave the explosive Norwalk video recording to The Times. This is what comes of $16 million, a crack opposition research operation and an opponent who … gave them the sword,” Rennie wrote late Monday.

Rennie confirmed in an e-mail to the Daily Caller Tuesday that he had written the post and that the McMahon campaign had told him they gave the story to the Times.

The practice of campaigns feeding information to reporters is common. It is less common for a campaign to take credit for the story after the story has been published.

McMahon, who co-founded the World Wrestling Federation (which later became World Wrestling Entertainment), has already loaned her campaign $14 million and has said she plans to ultimately spend as much as $30 to $50 million of her own money on the race.

McMahon and her husband Vince have been reported to be worth at least $500 million.

The McMahon campaign has slowly made up ground on Blumenthal in polling over the last few months, though they still remained a substantial distance behind.

With the Times story and the actual footage of Blumenthal making misleading statements about military service on camera, the McMahon juggernaut now has all they need to roll an attack message into overdrive.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hit back at McMahon Tuesday morning.

“Its no surprise Republicans would want to smear the Attorney General, considering all of the debauchery at the WWF under Linda McMahon’s watch,” said DSCC communications director Eric Schultz. “Unlike others, Dick Blumenthal served his country, enlisting and served six months at Parris Island, SC, and six years in the reserves.”

The Times story, however, says that military records show that Blumenthal received at least five deferrals from being drafted and demonstrated a pattern of Blumenthal making vague or even misleading statements that implied he went to Vietnam as a soldier during the war.

In one statement, Blumenthal actually said he served in Vietnam.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Blumenthal told a group of veterans and senior citizens in Norwalk in March 2008.

The Blumenthal campaign took issue with the story.

“The New York Times story is an outrageous distortion of Dick Blumenthal’s record of service,” Mindy Myers, Blumenthal’s campaign manager, told Politico.

“Unlike many of his peers, Dick Blumenthal voluntarily joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1970 and served for six months in Parris Island, SC and six years in the reserves. He received no special treatment from anyone. Dick has a long record of standing up for veterans. Tomorrow, veterans will be standing up with Dick,” Myers said.

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