The Upshot

Ahead of debate, McMahon slams Blumenthal on Vietnam

Holly Bailey
The Upshot

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Just hours before Monday night's first scheduled debate in Connecticut's U.S. Senate race, GOP nominee Linda McMahon unveiled a new TV ad against Democrat Dick Blumenthal, reviving charges that he lied about his service in Vietnam.

The spot focuses on the controversy from May, when the New York Times (and subsequently, several Connecticut papers) uncovered several instances when Blumenthal seemed to have suggested that he served in Vietnam, when, in fact, he didn't. Blumenthal blamed the controversy on "misplaced words" and later apologized.

McMahon's campaign, which initially bragged about giving the New York Times the scoop, has kept the issue percolating ever since. Last month, the campaign mailed voters a flier signed by 46 Vietnam vets calling Blumenthal "dishonest" and "dishonorable." But this is the first time McMahon has raised the issue in a TV ad, which comes as polls show she and Blumenthal are virtually tied in the race.

The 30-second ad (titled "What Else?") begins with the voice of an ominous narrator, who asks, "Would you lie about serving in a war?"

The spot then segues to the footage cited in the Times story of a March 2008 speech Blumenthal made before a Connecticut group. "We have learned something important since the days I served in Vietnam," Blumenthal is shown saying.

"Dick Blumenthal did, again and again," the narrator says, as the ad shifts to previously unseen footage of Blumenthal speaking at a 2003 speech, in which he says of Vietnam, "when we returned we sought nothing of this gratitude."

"He lied about Vietnam. What else is he lying about?" the narrator asks.

You can watch the ad here:

McMahon's ad comes as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has launched a new ad attacking her ties to her former company, World Wrestling Entertainment. Contrary to initial estimates, as reported by The Upshot on Friday, the DSCC is spending nearly a half a million dollars on the buy, according to a report filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission.

Yet not unlike a Blumenthal ad that began airing last month, the DSCC ad does not go after McMahon for the social and cultural implications of WWE wrestling. Instead, it attacks her for laying off workers while she received "millions in bonuses" and for lobbying Congress for tax cuts. "The kind of CEO Linda McMahon was, is the kind of senator she would be," a female narrator says.

You can watch the ad here:

The big question heading into Monday night's debate has to be whether Blumenthal will stick with hitting McMahon's corporate tenure at the WWE or whether he will bring up the company's treatment of its performers and drug use among pro wrestlers. The gloves are off, at least on McMahon's side. How far is Blumenthal willing to go?

(Screenshot of McMahon ad)

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