HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The wresting empire that U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon once ran is removing raunchy footage of wrestling performers from the Internet to keep it from being used by Democrats in the state's tightening race.
"It's being presented as today's WWE," said Brian Flinn, a WWE spokesman, "and it does not represent our PG-family-friendly entertainment of today."
But Democrats backing Rep. Chris Murphy are vowing to find a way to air the highlight reel anyway. On the campaign trail, McMahon often touts her time as CEO.
"We want to get it out there for the voters to be able to evaluate her full record," said Elizabeth Larkin, spokeswoman for state Democrats.
The Democratic-produced montage was released online in 2010, during McMahon's first run for Senate. It was intended to highlight instances where women allegedly have been objectified in WWE performances, including scenes of simulated sex and necrophilia and has been available for viewing on YouTube for the past two years. The clips at issue were from 2002 to 2006, before the company's broadcast programming was rated TV-PG in 2008.
"Some of this footage has been misused in political environments without any context or explanation as to when it was produced," WWE said in a statement this week.
The back-and-forth is the latest twist in an unexpectedly tight Senate contest, part of the broader political fight for control of the 100-seat chamber. Republicans need a net gain of four seats to win the majority and all of the chairmanships and agenda-setting power it includes. That goal seemed within reach a few months ago, but developments in states like Missouri, New Mexico, Maine and other states has clouded the party's prospects in the Nov. 6 elections.
McMahon's surge in Connecticut is an unexpected bright spot for the GOP. Senate Democrats last week pumped $320,000 in ads into Murphy's campaign in hopes of blunting McMahon's momentum in the Democratic-leaning state. McMahon enjoys a strong money advantage over Murphy, lending or giving nearly $16 million to her this year, while Murphy has raised less than $6 million.
WWE recently had the video montage removed as part of its effort to get rid of the old content. When the state Democratic Party reposted it on the Vimeo video-sharing website on Monday, WWE had it removed once again eight hours later. A message was posted saying "Vimeo has removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. claiming that this material is infringing PG-TV."
WWE was a hot issue for McMahon's opponents in 2010, whether it was the company's programming or how it has treated wrestlers. One of her Republican primary rivals, Peter Schiff, used old footage of McMahon in the ring pretending to kick a referee in the crotch in one of his TV commercials. The spot said, "liberal McMahon has kicked Republicans for years." There was no apparent effort made by WWE to force Schiff to pull the ad.
Vince McMahon, Linda McMahon's husband and the current CEO and board chairman of WWE, expressed frustration near the end of the 2010 election — which Linda McMahon lost to Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal — about using out-of-context footage to take shots at his company. In an interview with The Associated Press at the company's offices, he said WWE's detractors had left out the "soap opera elements" leading up to those controversial moments. Also, he complained that credit hadn't been given to the WWE's efforts over the years to evolve, step up drug testing and improve its health and wellness program for the wrestlers.