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Rob Simmons's Video Gift for Blumenthal

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, May 28 2010

Rob Simmons, a former member of the House and a retired Army colonel, couldn't find a way to beat former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon for the Republican nomination in the Connecticut Senate race to replace Chris Dodd. Simmons had trouble getting traction, and McMahon had going in her favor her pledge to spend up to $30 million in her race. But Simmons, notes the AP, has left behind a YouTube video cache that could work out to be something of asset for the Democratic nominee in the Connecticut race, Richard Blumenthal.

There's an irony here, of course. Blumenthal recently got bitten, hard, by years old videos showing him erroneously claiming, on occasion, to have served in Vietnam. There's something really powerful about video that, in some cases, can turn a non-story or a minor story into something really, really, big. Simmons tried that approach when he went after McMahon. McMahon's near 30 years co-running the wrestling giant WWE left her with buckets of cash, but it also left a record. That video record triggers some dissonance with the current image McMahon's been exuding, that of, more or less, a high school principle from New Canaan. In one clip, for example, McMahon's husband and partner Vince talks to a whimpering female as if she were a dog, employing what you might expect to be the relevant rhetoric. In another, two women make out in the ring under Vince's prodding, interrupted by two burly men in football jerseys, one of whom plants a rather horrifying kick on one of the women's chests. Then, for could measure, Simmons has included in McMahon's greatest hits a news clips featuring children describing the colorful things they've witnessed in the ring; B-roll footage features a cute braided-haired little girls wearing an oversized black WWE-inspired t-shirts that reads, "100% Pure Whoop Ass."

Simmons' McMahon videos didn't do him much good in the primary. Gail Collins wrote in the New York Times earlier this week that, frankly, "no one paid attention." McMahon's money, the theory goes, proved to be too much of an advantage (and too attractive to GOP funders). Simmons also took some knocks for running a negative campaign. But with the Democratic and Republican nominations both now locked down, it's a new ball game. Will Blumenthal get any more mileage out of the video stash the Simmons campaign left behind, floating around on the Internet? Will anyone actually take note of them this time around? We'll see. Stay tuned.