The pro wrestling group co-founded by Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon is removing Internet content that for the past two years has become fodder for the candidate’s political rivals – but not before state Democrats cobbled together enough remaining images for a short-lived highlight reel.
The maneuvering is just the latest back and forth between the campaigns for McMahon and Democratic challenger Rep. Chris Murphy in a tightening race in Connecticut that could decide control of the Senate.
WWE, the Connecticut-based company from which McMahon resigned in 2009 as chief executive officer, says the company is moving in a more PG-rated direction and that “dated and edgier” content was being removed in part to stop it from being poached for political purposes.
"Some of this footage has been misused in political environments without any context or explanation as to when it was produced," the company said. "This damages the corporate reputation of our company. WWE is well within its rights to protect its intellectual property for fair use."
McMahon, who has spent an estimated $65 million on her Senate aspirations, has been hounded about her connection with WWE since her failed 2010 campaign against Democrat Richard Blumenthal. And Democrats were not about to let the matter go just because WWE was removing some of the content.
“Linda McMahon made millions peddling sex, violence, necrophilia and abusive treatment of women to kids – all at the expense and safety of her own workers,” said Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the Connecticut Democratic Party said Monday, upon re-releasing a highlight video. “Despite (World Wrestling Entertainment’s) best efforts to play cover-up, they can’t erase Linda McMahon’s past."
That video, though, which showed wrestlers in racy scenes in the WWE ring, was later removed by the WWE.
The Murphy campaign declined to comment Monday and referred questions to the state Democratic Party.
However, the campaign told the Fox Connecticut last week that the sum of McMahon’s business experience “comes from selling explicit sex and violence” and questioned whether the WWE was coordinating with the McMahon campaign to “cover up her embarrassing past.”
McMahon and WWE officials have denied the suggestions and point out such efforts violate Federal Election Commission regulations.
McMahon spokesman Todd Abrajano said Monday the real issue in Connecticut is jobs and that his candidate has continued to put forth a detailed plan while Murphy has not.
“The No. 1 issue in this state is who is better at fixing unemployment and turning around the economy,” he told FoxNews.com.
An average of polls by the website RealClearPolitics has McMahon leading by less than 1 percentage point, in a Democrat-leaning state.
On Tuesday, McMahon attempted to distance herself from remarks made by Mitt Romney about how 47 percent of Americans depend on government and believe they are victims and entitled to benefits.
She posted a statement on Facebook saying she disagrees with his comments and knows the vast majority who rely on government "are not in that situation because they want to be."
Murph campaign said "no amount of campaign spin" can change the fact that McMahon supports "Romney's right-wing Republican agenda."
Earlier this month, the McMahon campaign went on the offensive, filing an ethics complaint against Murphy that alleges he violated House rules by accepting an exceptionally good home mortgage deal.
Murphy was sued in 2007 for defaulting on a mortgage. The McMahon campaign said the three-term congressman then used his political position a year later to get a "prohibitive gift" after the foreclosure lawsuit -- a $43,000 home equity line of credit that had a 4.99 percent interest rate.
Bank officials have said Murphy’s interest rate was still 1 percentage point higher than its most credit-worthy customers. And the Murphy campaign has called the complaint a baseless political maneuver, in a race now considered a toss-up in a Democratic-leaning state.