Candidates Corner: From WWE to GOP
Republican, U.S. Senator for Connecticut
Prepare yourself for an endless stream of repetitive, sophomoric wrestling metaphors and jokes – many including the phrases “off the top rope” and “into the ring,” some references to a Senate SmackDown, maybe even a few suggestions on how best to incorporate the metal folding chair into political maneuvering.
Former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon – wife of the flamboyant wrestling monarch Vince McMahon – is running to oust Democrat Chris Dodd from his long-held post as Senator for Connecticut, delivering the fiscal-conservative battle cry against “[the] reckless spending, bloated bureaucracy and a trillion dollar stimulus package that won’t spur economic growth” as her reasons for launching a career in politics.
Just days after announcing her bid for the U.S. Senate, McMahon appeared on CNN‘s American Mornings, and anchor Kiran Chetry seemed on a path to offering a top-notch, fair interview with the Republican candidate. For the most part, it was a balanced and impartial interview. As a matter of fact, CNN producers made it a whole three minutes into the interview before plugging in a bit of salacious video footage from McMahon’s days as an on-camera WWE personality.
Regardless of any opinions about the quality – or lack thereof – of WWE’s programming, McMahon is an accomplished businesswoman and has long been active in many charitable organizations and non-profits like the Make a Wish Foundation and the USO (making the WWE one of the biggest entertainment/corporate supporters of the U.S. military stateside and overseas).
But it’s quite likely McMahon will be kept busy throughout her campaign answering to criticisms regarding the sexually suggestive and violent programming of WWE, the suspicion that performance-enhancing drugs may have contributed to the untimely deaths of a small number of WWE wrestlers, and the highly publicized murder-suicide of former WWE star Chris Benoit and his family in 2007 (in which performance-enhancing drugs were also considered to be a factor).
As Politico writer Josh Kraushaar puts it, these criticisms may force Mrs. McMahon “to decide whether to embrace the colorful glory of the WWE, or criticize some of the excess inside the wrestling ring.”
Which brings to me to what could prove to be one of the greater ironies to play out in the 2010 elections – career politicians admonishing a businesswoman for any sort of excess! These are the same politicians who seem to think that a phonetic similarity to “democracy” must mean that “hypocrisy” is also a legitimate form of governance.
To her credit – having scolded Washington for the influence permitted to special interests – McMahon stated in her campaign announcement that she will not accept campaign donations from political action committees, nor any single donation over $100. And in a Meg Whitman-esque move, she has also committed $30 million of the McMahon family fortune to her candidacy.
Her official campaign – not even a week old – has already plugged serious money into television advertising, to include a commercial that ran during the season premier of Saturday Night Live – an episode that featured the rock music giant U2.
McMahon faces three other Republicans in the primary elections, including current frontrunner, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons. Though, given McMahon’s warm welcome by the GOP and early feedback, Simmons may not be the frontrunner much longer.
Editor’s Note: See the previous installments of Karen Northon’s Candidates Corner Series: