Richard Blumenthal’s campaign wasted no time exploiting Republican Linda McMahon’s comments Thursday regarding the minimum wage, and her campaign’s attempts later to clarify them.
By Friday evening, Blumenthal had released a television commercial ripped from Thursday’s headlines. The 31-second spot focuses on how McMahon operated World Wrestling Entertainment.
“She took $10 million from the state to create jobs, but fired 10 percent of her workers,” the narrator says.
“Her business is under investigation for failing to pay Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment,” the narrator says. “She took home $46 million and now she’s talking about lowering the minimum wage.”
The Blumenthal campaign released a web version and script of the ad Friday evening as it attempted to capitalize on McMahon’s statements Thursday related to the minimum wage. The ad was to begin airing on television immediately.
The ad, however, is misleading in two regards. First it flashes a headline that states: “McMahon: Congress should consider lowering minimum wage.” McMahon never said those exact words. Asked if she supported reducing the minimum wage, McMahon gave an answer but failed to rule out a reduction.
“We have got minimum wages in states, we have got minimum wages in the government, and I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them,” McMahon said Thursday. “I think we should get input from our business community. We should listen to our small business operators and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it’s impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions.”
While the exact phrase wasn’t spoken, McMahon’s statement is wide open in terms of suggesting a review of “all those issues.”
The flap began after McMahon visited an East Hartford cleaning contractor to receive the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business – a group that opposes any increase to the federal minimum wage.
Later in the day the campaign clarified her position.
“Linda is opposed to lowering the minimum wage, and she believes Washington absolutely needs to stop the practice of passing multi-billion dollar bills without review and debate,” Ed Patru, McMahon’s communications director, said in a statement.
Secondly, the ad says the WWE is under investigation for failing to pay Social Security, Medicare and unemployment. The WWE is actually under investigation by the state for how it classifies its employees, including its wrestlers. If the WWE misclassified certain employees, the company would not have been paying Social Security, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance taxes.
McMahon’s campaign sent out an email to supporters Friday evening warning them not to believe Blumenthal’s attacks.
“There he goes again. As if lying about his own record wasn’t enough, now our opponent is lying about our campaign,” Patru said in an email. “Dick Blumenthal is telling voters Linda wants to cut the minimum wage. The truth is that Linda opposes any cuts to the minimum wage.”
The email encourages McMahon’s supporters to speak up if they hear anyone misspeaking about McMahon’s position on the minimum wage.
“If you hear someone talking about the attacks on our campaign at the coffee shop, at the soccer game, or while you’re talking to neighbors, don’t let our opponent’s attacks spread any further. Make sure they know the facts,” Patru wrote.