U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon defended World Wrestling Entertainment’s treatment of women in a television interview aired Sunday and indicated she would oppose efforts to censor similar programming.

In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Christiane Amanpour pressed the Republican nominee and former WWE chief executive with some of the toughest questioning so far about the abuse of women on WWE programs–including an episode in which her husband, Vince McMahon, bullied a female wrestler into partially disrobing and getting on all fours.

“I mean, I’m a woman. You’re a woman,” Amanpour said. “What do you really think when you see some of that go on in the ring, the girl who was told to get on all fours, I think by your own husband, and bark like a dog? Are you comfortable with that?

“Well, WWE programming has changed from being TV-14 over the years, which — that’s the time you were talking about. It was called the Attitude Era — into now being PG, rated by the networks as PG. I’m happy with the content today,” McMahon replied.

“As a senator, if you could stop it, would you stop that kind of depiction against women on — on the public airwaves? Would you at least lobby your campaign against it?” Amanpour asked.

“I do believe in the First Amendment rights and content,” McMahon said.

Amanpour interrupted, pressing her, “So you don’t think there’s anything wrong with it?”

“Well, content providers are clearly creating scenarios. From an entertainment point of view, I think that you either elect to go to a movie or you elect to watch a program, so I’m a strong proponent of First Amendment rights. At the same time at WWE, women really are powerful women, and the programming content, as I’ve said, has changed from TV-14 to TV-PG. I much prefer it today.”

As has been the case throughout the campaign, when McMahon has refused to address whether she would cut entitlement programs that consume 40 percent of the federal budget, McMahon was non-responsive when asked about Social Security and Medicaid.

“Social Security and Medicaid. Is that where you would cut?” Amanpour asked.

“Let me just name a couple of other things, too.” McMahon said. “I just think we should freeze the federal hiring and freeze wages again, not going to make a big dent. However, I do believe we should take the balance of the stimulus money and pay down the debt.”

In an interview with The Mirror two months ago, McMahon said she did not think it was possible to have a rational discussion about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid during the campaign. “I just don’t believe that the campaign trail is the right place to talk about that,” McMahon said.

Amanpour interviewed McMahon and her Democratic opponent, Richard Blumenthal, separately Thursday after their debate in Norwalk.

Blumenthal broke no new ground during his conversation with Amanpour, who asked him why the race has narrowed since he entered the race in January.

“We’ve said from the beginning that this would be a tight, tough, competitive race,” Blumenthal said. “And a $50 million negative attack machine is bound to narrow the polls, and we expected it. It’s happened.”

A question about his misstatements about serving in Vietnam yielded nothing new.

“I have answered the question about Vietnam saying that I am sorry that I inaccurately described my military record. I’m proud of having served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve,” he said. “And I think the voters of Connecticut are concerned about the real issues, and I believe that those are the issues that will be center in the election. My opponent may have more money, but I’ve got 20 years’ worth of friends.”

“Is anybody worried?” Amanpour asked.

“You’d have to ask them,” Blumenthal replied.

“Are you worried?” she asked

“I always run like I’m an underdog, like I’m 10 points behind,” Blumenthal said. “But I think there is a very clear contrast between someone who has been a CEO, claims to create jobs, and has treated people in a way I don’t think the people of Connecticut would want anyone representing them to treat them.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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