Thursday, August 31, 2000

Avoid a smack-down - get out and vote

By Derrick DePledge
Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — Wrestlers rule! OK, so maybe they don't rule, unless television ratings among young people count.

        But they rock!

        And they have opinions on politics, like the fact that more people should pay attention to debates because there is a presidential election coming up.

        Over the summer, the World Wrestling Federation helped register more than 40,000 voters. Seriously, dude. Vote, or they might find you and smack you down.

        Linda McMahon, chief executive officer of WWF Entertainment Inc., on Wednesday challenged Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush to appear at a WWF event and debate, with former wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura as the moderator.

        The WWF attracts a television audience estimated at 22 million to its twisted circus, with about 14 million of them of voting age.

        “We have a wonderful forum to reach out to them,” said Ms. McMahon, who de scribed presidential politics as serious business — most of the time. “You have to have a sense of fun. You have to have a little humor in the campaign as well.”

        Wrestler Dwayne Johnson, aka “The Rock,” had a speaking role at the Republican National Convention, where he also announced that he had registered to vote. Joanie Laurer, the wrestling queen “Chyna,” made a similar declaration at the Democratic National Convention.

        The Gore and Bush campaigns are reviewing the invitation to debate, aides said.


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