Former wrestling mogul Linda McMahon has condemned the current state of the 2016 race — which, at times, has played out more like a WWE storyline than an election — calling the candidates’ rhetoric “deplorable.”
McMahon, a two-time GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate and the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, took exception to the ongoing war of words between Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and his closest rival, Ted Cruz.
“It’s a little bit of a Wild West show,” McMahon told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. “I think the rhetoric has really gone over the top. Some of the comments that have been made, I think, are quite deplorable. I would like to see our candidates focus on the issues.”
In a widely publicized feud, both Trump and Cruz have dragged their opponent’s spouse into the limelight — often with physical appearance being a focal point.
McMahon, who ran for office twice in her home state of Connecticut, knows firsthand the ugly turn politics can take when much of your life is subject to public scrutiny.
“As a former candidate, it is really, really hard to run,” McMahon said, referring to an incident during her campaign when her daughter, Stephanie, became the target of attacks. “I can relate to how they get down in the mud with that stuff, and you really want to hit back and hit back hard.”
In addition to her disdain for the current state of the GOP race, McMahon — whose Women’s Leadership Live initiative aims to help further women in business — took particular offense at Trump’s continual disparaging comments toward women.
“Those [comments] were just over the top; they were deplorable, objectionable absolutely,” McMahon said. “He’s not helping, certainly, to put women in the best light. Maybe he regrets them, maybe he doesn’t. I realize he punches hard when he punches back, but that’s just over the top. I wish that no candidate would make those comments.”
Despite all of that, McMahon did say she has faith in Trump’s ability to run the country should he win the Republican nomination and, eventually, the White House.
“He is the frontrunner, and I think he surprised a lot of people,” McMahon said. “He really is a vessel of this angst and unrest in this country. He said it straight out, didn’t worry about being politically correct. … I think that really is a seed of a great deal of his popularity. I think Donald has proven himself in a lot of areas to be an astute businessman. … I think that he will hire good people for advice.”
Part of McMahon’s trust in the billionaire real estate mogul lies in her knowledge of his business acumen. McMahon’s WWE has a longstanding relationship with Trump — he’s a member of the company’s hall of fame — that dates back decades to when he hosted a company event in Atlantic City.
“He was such a great partner. He was a wonderful promoter,” McMahon said. “He really greased the wheels and made things work very easy. He’s very loyal; he’s a patriot. … [He] really did exactly what he said he was going to do.”
Years later, Trump participated in a WWE storyline at WrestleMania 23 that pitted him against McMahon’s husband, Vince, in a match where the winner would shave the loser’s head.
Since leaving her post as president and CEO of WWE prior to her first Senate campaign, McMahon has become an even bigger advocate for furthering women in the workplace with Women’s Leadership Live.
“I didn’t realize until I started campaigning that women really had so many issues about the need for community, the need for support,” McMahon said. “At one of my campaign rallies, there were so many young girls there, about 12 to 14 years old. I said, ‘I don’t hear them talking about WWE; I don’t think they’re here because they are fans of WWE, per se,’ and one mother said it’s because they have so few women role models.”
And a presidential victory for Hillary Clinton would make for yet another strong female role model — something McMahon sees value in, political affiliations aside.
“I think it’s high time that we had a woman president,” McMahon said. “But I don’t want to elect someone just because she’s a woman; I want the best candidate to be elected. I think that any woman who is elected to the highest office in the land would clearly have positive role model effects for other young women.”