It took less than an hour after Linda McMahon’s triumph in the Connecticut Republican primary election for Senate Tuesday night for Democrats to throw her past as a pro wrestling CEO in her face, in a volley of attacks that is unlikely to cease until election day in November.
“Today the party of Bob Dole, Jack Kemp and Richard Lugar nominated a candidate who kicks men in the crotch, thinks of scenes of necrophilia as ‘entertainment,’ and runs an operation where women are forced to bark like dogs. This is what has become of the once grand old party,” said Hari Sevugan, national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.
Sevugan sent out links to three videos on YouTube related to World Wrestling Entertainment, which McMahon was in charge of until 2009.
It’s an attempt to define McMahon right out of the box after the primary, as more in the media and the public pay attention to a party’s nominee or take a fresh look. Rand Paul, the Republican in Kentucky, endured several days of heavy criticism and bad media after his primary win in May, helping his Democratic opponent Jack Conway close in the polls.
Republicans said that Democrats have been lobbing the wrestling video clips at McMahon for months with almost no effect. And in fact, the latest Quinnipiac poll on Aug. 4 showed McMahon had cut Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s lead to 10 points, down from 17 in July.
But Democrats are hoping that as the race hits a new gear now, the broader electorate in Connecticut will not look kindly on video clips from McMahon’s days as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.
One clip shows McMahon “acting” in a skit with her husband, current WWE CEO Vince McMahon, inside the ring at a WWE event. She mock kicks a man in the groin after firing him from WWE.
Another clip shows Vince McMahon telling WWE female wrestler Trish Stratus to get on her knees and bark like a dog, while thousands of spectators inside the arena cheered and yelled. The third is a clip of a WWE wrestler Paul Michael Levesque, known as “Triple H,” talking in a radio interview about a time when Vince McMahon had him simulate sex with a fake corpse inside a funeral home.
The McMahon campaign said the videos and the candidate’s past were a distraction from real issues facing the country, and branded Democrats attacking McMahon with the label “Washington.”
“People in Connecticut are hurting because Washington policies are driving this country deeper into debt and further into unemployment,” said McMahon spokesman Ed Patru.
“Washington just doesn’t get it. People want jobs, and Washington’s response is more spending, higher taxes, and now, apparently, 10-year old wrestling videos pulled from YouTube. I think we all know how that strategy is going to play out,” Patru said.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee said that McMahon’s primary victory had given them “a strong pick-up opportunity in Connecticut this November.”
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and chairman of the NRSC, argued that WWE — a multi-million dollar grossing company — is a “successful international corporation.”
“As a self-made businesswoman who helped grow her company from a modest 13-person endeavor to a successful international corporation, Linda McMahon is ready to make the tough decisions in Washington in order to grow jobs, rein in out-of-control spending, and spur economic development,” Cornyn said.
But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also went after McMahon for her past as a WWE executive.
“As the former WWE CEO, McMahon built an empire peddling violent, sexually explicit material that glorified the exploitation of women, and the mentally disabled,” said DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz. “Yet, it’s McMahon’s record outside the ring that is raising the most serious questions – including steroid abuse running rampant under her watch.”
McMahon won her primary with just under 50 percent of the Republican vote, defeating two other candidates. She will face Blumenthal, who has faced troubles of his own after statements he has made in the past about service in the Vietnam war were revealed to be misleading.
McMahon spent around $22 million of her own fortune in the primary and has said she is willing to spend $50 million of her own money all told before the race is over.
Here are the three clips sent out by the DNC: