A supporter at a University of Connecticut campaign event Monday ripped a sign out of a male protestor’s hands and threw it to the ground.
That much is clear, but the aftermath of what happened at the University of Connecticut Monday remains unclear as statements about the event seem to vary.
The skirmish, which Linda McMahon’s campaign says was started by a Richard Blumenthal supporter happened at a McMahon rally on the Storrs campus.
David Haseltine, 24, told the Associated Press that a female McMahon supporter tore down the sign he was holding that accused McMahon of profiting from violence against women. The McMahon campaign sent out a statement claiming the male protestor was at fault.
“A disappointing incident occurred this morning on the UConn campus when a male protester at a pre-election rally shoved a young woman supporting Linda,” McMahon’s communications director Ed Patru said. “She is fine and has declined to file charges against him, but it is disappointing that Dick Blumenthal’s campaign has resorted to intimidation.”
Haseltine was unable to be reached for comment Monday afternoon and University of Connecticut Police did not return several calls seeking comment.
Michael Daniels, of the UConn College Democrats, said Haseltine is no longer associated with the group “in any form, and he is not a part of our coordinated efforts with the Blumenthal campaign.”
“He rather has associated himself with the independent Jason Ortiz for State Representative campaign. Though Haseltine may personally support Richard Blumenthal, he is not a part of our efforts for Blumenthal on campus,” said Daniels.
While McMahon supporters were aggressive, Blumenthal supporters protesting the event proved equally aggressive.
Brenna Regan, a UConn student who works with the Violence Against Women Prevention Program on campus, came out to demonstrate against McMahon. She kept trying to hand McMahon a “lifetime achievement award” for her “promotion of violence against women,” which McMahon ignored.
“Her $50 million campaign comes from this institution that supports rape culture,” Regan said. She said WWE footage she watched both “demoralizes” and “dehumanizes” women.
“We just want her to explain her association with it and she never does,” she said.
During the brief time she was on campus for the event McMahon talked about how she’s gaining the support of women and undecided voters in her final campaign push.
“We may be the slight underdog, but I’m feeling really good about the race,” she said. “We’ve got a great ground gang.”
The most recent Quinnipiac University Poll shows McMahon down by nine points against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and popular Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. She will need the extra support of women and undecided voters to pull ahead of Blumenthal, who also receives strong support from women.
A recent surge of press coverage surrounds her campaign as Election Day nears. Television ads portray McMahon as a mother and grandmother in a possible attempt to appeal to a larger base of women.
“We’ve had a great amount of press coverage lately that I’m very happy with,” McMahon said. “We’re just trying to look into the camera and lay it all out for voters.”
Janet Peckinpaugh, former journalist and Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District, also came out to stump for McMahon. She said garnering the women’s vote can prove challenging, but she feels confident.
“What’s hard is women are harder on other women because we have higher standards,” she said. “But we’re both seeing a strong female movement within our campaigns.”
She also said some non-Republican women feel anxious about conservative stances on social issues, assuming all Republicans feel the same way.
“I can’t speak for Linda, but I know I’m fiscally conservative and more moderate in my social views,” she said.