(CNN) – Mitt Romney is backing away from a statement that seemed to denigrate former GOP presidential candidate Robert Dole, who wrote a letter to Rush Limbaugh yesterday defending the former Massachusetts governor’s main Republican rival, John McCain.
In a FOX interview Tuesday morning, Romney had said the former Kansas senator was “probably the last person I would have wanted to have write a letter for me.”
McCain immediately put out a statement condemning the comment, and told reporters on his campaign plane that Romney should apologize to Dole, a decorated World War II veteran, for the remark: "this is no way to end up this campaign, by attacking a genuine American war hero." His campaign also released a statement in which the Arizona senator called Romney’s remark “disgraceful.”
A short time later, Romney also referred to Dole as “an American hero.” He added that he would love to have the former senator’s support for his own bid.
“I think very highly of Sen. Dole,” he said, and had merely intended to criticize “the mental set that says we should choose our nominee based on how many years they’ve served and how long they’ve waited in line.” He added that he did not think McCain will benefit from the letter.
On Monday, Dole sent Rush Limbaugh defending John McCain as a "mainstream conservative," in reaction to the talk show host’s attempts to rally grassroots conservative support against the Arizona senator.
Dole said in that letter he remains neutral in this year’s presidential primary.
UPDATE: Romney unsuccessfully attempted to reach Dole by telephone Tuesday morning to clarify his statements.
– CNN’s Tasha Diakides and Alexander Marquardt contributed to this report
I think highly of Dole, he is one of my favorite Washington insiders...
This insinuates that someone should apologize to someone because they are a WW2 vet. Does being a decorated WW2 vet automatically make someone unable to do wrong or something?
I hate it when people throw up patriotic buzzwords to defend themselves rather than answering for what they do.
Romney is absolutely right! No builder tries to construct a house without a base yet John McCain is trying to build his campaign without the conservative base. If John McCain gets the nomination, his house with no foundation with easily collapse.
Conservatives need to join Romney to prevent McCain.
McCain's true colors are coming out...time will tell just what a straight shooter he really is OR will he be the typical GOP HYPOCRITE.....I'll bet on the hypocrite....
Hey Mitt, please salvage the rest of your millions and go home. Or give to it to Bill Gates. Both better options than what you are currently doing.
Romney has that problem that most politicians have, the inability to shut up.
Grow up McCain! Bob Dole can speak for himself. He said last night that he doesn't agree with McCain on a number of issues.
I'm sorry, but sending any of the three Senators (McCain, Clinton,or Obama) back to Washington is not the answer that America needs. America will get a lot of the same or worse than what it has right now. They have been in Washington and haven't gotten anything done. America will go no where on any stance, whether it be militarily or otherwise, if it doesn't have a strong economy. As much as a lot of people don't like Mitt Romney, he is the only one that can expose Washington for what it has done to this nation and turn it around so we, as a nation, can get back on track. Mitt Romney understands what kind of nation we will be living in if any of the Senators go back to Washington, that is exactly why he has put his money where his mouth is. He won't have anyone to payback but himself. None of the other canidates, Democrat or Republican, can say that.
Both McCain and Romney are showing their very, very ugly sides in this race.
So far, the only candidate out of all of them who seems to be consistently civil is Barack Obama, who isn't perfect himself but is generally an honorable candidate.
Romney is so slimmy. He will say whatever works best at any particular moment.
BA and other Romney apologists. How can you stand up for him or denigrate Dole when he came out and essentially apologized. Which stance of your candidate are you supporting, his first or second?
Sorry – just a case of Mitt being Mitt.
John McCain tries to pretend he takes the high road and isn't negative, but he always seems to be coming out with interesting words to describe his opponents, like "disgraceful." I will NOT be voting for that man because he seems arrogant and that is surely not what kind of person we need to lead our country right now. Haven't we had enough arrogance?
Mitt is a true creep, he would have never lasted this long in the Democratic primary, he would have gotten less than 2% of the vote.
McCain is such a whiner! This is the same sort of tactic he used in Florida, of COURSE Romney wasn't criticizing Dole! Get over it! McCain, your so deceitful I can't stand it! I can't believe your ahead in the polls and FINALLY everyone is recognizing this deceit that you've had for such a long time! You attack personal character, you've been involved in a scandal, you lie and you think it's okay for America to ignore it. You take whatever you want way out of context like you did with Romney about the troop timetable, and you're so gullible! How can you lead our country with your attitude and ignorance!?
I wouldn't back off the comments – and I will be changing my party from (Rep) to (Indep) tomorrow. I am a anyone but McCain! I wanted Fred or Mitt – now I am left with Obama!
One last thought – McCain, I don't care who you get your support from. They are all freinds or have been bought. Anyone who has supported McCain has betrayed the (R) party and I will remember who they are and never vote for them in any office from here on out.
Sorry – one last thing. Huckabee you should be ashamed. Atleast my guy Fred understood when you should bow out – now I am left with McCain. What a sad day for America!
All McCain knows is war. I don't care if Bob Dole is a war veteran. If someone doesn't support his views, they should be able to speak out against them no matter who they are.
On a side note, we need someone that is above and beyond all this junk and really is discussing issues and not fighting with rivals over stupid things they said. That is Ron Paul. A real politician, with real ideas that will do something to help this nation instead of keeping it on its steady decline
I don't think by Romney saying Dole, "...is the last person I'd want to write a letter for me" is disrespectful to the 'war hero'! Dole, even though a war hero, was a political loser and I wouldn't want him writing a political letter for me either! McCain is shameless in his attempt to slant the quote to his advantage...must've been too many years in the POW camp, which has clouded his reasonable thinking...or can't anyone opinionate about any 'war hero' without offending? If offended, perhaps the 'war heros' should stay out of politics! Go run the Veterans of Foreign Wars or something! Besides, McCain WILL NOT beat Clinton, meaning we're all in deep, deep trouble.
How is Romney the conservative in this race? I don't get it. He is just another northeastern liberal just like Bush. All it takes is conservative rhetoric to become a conservative, no action necessary???
McCain is a lier.
McCain hates Republicans deep down. We all know it. And being a POW doesn't mean you get to be President.
What a fitting end for such a complete jerk. Romney goes down taking the low road reversing himself within 24 hours. Perfect.
I wouldn't vote for a republican with a gun to my head but of the pathetic crop they've turned up this year McCain is certainly the only one I could even imagine living with as president. Of course according to the "agents of intolerance" that makes him their worst choice which only goes to show what little interest the far right has in any kind of consensus. Not that the far left is any better.
Rush Limbaugh is chastising the loser liberal McCain right at this moment!
HA! It's great!
Rush says in no way did Bob Dole give any endorsement to the liberal McCain in the email he sent yesterday!
Kaite February 5, 2008 12:14 pm ET
Romney is so slimmy. He will say whatever works best at any particular moment.
Yes, Kaite, and no other candidate has ever done that, have they. Get real. They're all politicians trying to get your vote.
There goes Romney shooting off at the mouth again; he will insult others, but when someone comes after him, he cries how unfair they are to him. See, Romney, as a draft dodger, who is trying to portray himself as a "wannabe" veteran. It is an insult to our veterans who have served or are still serving for him to even be considered our "Commander and Chief" of the services.....can you imagine, a "draft dodger" laying the wreath at the grave of the unknow soldier – he would be rolling in his grave.
I wish the extreme right-wingers would just vote for Romney and leave the rest of mainstream, moderate Republicans and Independents outside their petty quarrel. The far right-wingers are not the base of the Republican Party and never have been. They are just as bad as the extreme left-wingers of the Democratic Party. Thank goodness there are moderates in both parties willing to do what is best for America and not their own personal agendas. When the extremes (Romney and Clinton) fail in their goals, perhaps this nation can begin some serious rebuilding and changing for the better.
Rush Limbaugh said this morning that McCain is playing "dirty" and making FALSE CLAIMS about the Bob Dole email that was sent to him.
Limbaugh says McCain should be ashamed of McCain!
IN NO WAY DID DOLE EVER; EVER GIVE ANY ENDORSMENT TO THE LIBERAL McCAIN!