The campaigns and supporters of Connecticut's two Senate candidates on Monday traded accusations about years-old embarrassments, just hours before Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Linda McMahon were scheduled to meet for their first face-to-face debate.
McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, released a new 30-second TV ad with clips of Blumenthal, the state's longtime attorney general, appearing to suggest he served in Vietnam rather than stateside as a member of the Marine Reserve. The campaign said the comments were made in 2003 and 2008 and claims it is "new video" that has emerged since Blumenthal first came under fire in May for several misstatements.
"If he lied about Vietnam, what else is he lying about," asks the announcer.
Meanwhile, Democrats circulated news stories about the WWE teaming up with the company that produces the "Girls Gone Wild" videos and promoting a 2003 "uncensored" pay-per-view spring break special.
Kate Hansen, a spokeswoman for the state Democrats accused McMahon, who stepped down as WWE's CEO last fall to run for Sen. Christoper Dodd's seat, of teaming up with "an executive convicted on child pornography charges to produce and market a raunchy pay-per-view event, explicit programming marketed to kids to make herself millions in profits."
Hansen was referring to "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis, who was released in March 2008 after spending a year in jail. He had pleaded no contest to child abuse and prostitution for filming underage girls in Florida.
A McMahon spokesman said all of WWE's content has evolved to PG programming. WWE has said it became entirely PG as of June 2008.
"Dick Blumenthal and his friends in Washington are more concerned about a seven-year-old, pay-per-view options then they are about the state of the economy and the unemployment rate," said Ed Patru.
McMahon's ad also resurrects her earlier criticisms of Blumenthal's misstatements about his Vietnam service. McMahon has tried to paint Blumenthal, considered one of the most popular politicians in Connecticut, as a political insider voters can't trust.
"It's another desperate attack from a losing campaign with nothing to say. Linda McMahon's money can't buy Dick Blumenthal's genuine record of standing up and fighting for the people of Connecticut," said Blumenthal campaign manager, Mindy Myers.
A recent Quinnipiac University Poll gave Blumenthal a slight lead over McMahon, who has said she'll spend as much as $50 million of her own money on the race.
The debate is to be televised live -- on Fox in Connecticut -- at 7 p.m. Eastern time Monday. The event is expected to be closely watched.