February 5th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
4 years ago

McCain takes aim at Romney's remark on Dole

 Romney is taking heat from McCain for his recent remark on Bob Dole.
Romney is taking heat from McCain for his recent remark on Bob Dole.

(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


Filed under: John McCain • Mitt Romney
soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. Jack the Canuck

    Why is it that everyone picks on the spouse of the Democratic candidates but never mention "BARBIE" McCain, the drug abuser RICH wife of "my friend" John?
    She follows him around like a little poodle in more outfits and just smiles a little bit so as not to crack all the make-up she wears. What is it with the Republican spouse bashing the democrats, but not vice versa. What gives?

    February 5, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. Roger

    Compare McCain's voting and past stances on issues like abortion, homosexual marriage, and socialized medicine, to those of Romney.

    America: you're being lied to by certain corporate plutocrats. McCain is the real conservative. McCain is the traditional conservative. Romney supported abortions and socialized medicine when he was governor… his only conservative credential is that he's a corporate sellout.

    February 5, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. @jt

    Illegal's don't get welfare.

    February 5, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. PeeWee

    You want the truth? YOU COULDN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

    Truth is, any one of these career politicians would make a good choice (except maybe Huck and Ron Paul, who are ideologues). McCain or Mitt or Hillary or Obama, pick one. They aren't going to sell us out to al-Qaeda or make us all get gay-married or take away our family doctor, okay? 99% of what they say is campaign rhetoric, and a president doesn't really have much power or influence.

    Despite Bill Clinton being The President, most Americans from both parties thought he made a stooge of himself. Despite GW Bush being The President, most Americans think he's just Cheney's spokesmodel. No one except really mentally unstable freaks tries to model themselves after a president (they dress up like Britney instead). So quit trying to elect the exemplar of your philosophy and just settle on which dumb hack is least likely to follow in Bush's stumbling footprints.

    February 5, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. Grant

    Well McCain has been a Senator for what? 25 years or so? And what of note does he have to show for it? We need change and its not by electing an old Washington insider that will give us 8 more years of Bush logic. I applaud his POW bravery, however, that has nothing whatsoever to do with this election. He is more of the same. The very fact that hes using this campaign to bad mouth those that are too close, tells me volumns about his character. If he gets the nomination, I will switch partys immediately!! Unfortunate that our leaders have to act like kids on a playground and then expect us to back those actions. Mitt Romney may be wealthy, may not be part of the Washington inner circle, but the guy has character and a proven track record. Get in there Mitt and clean this mess up before we all go down the tubes!!!!!!

    February 5, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Sidney

    I am sorry that Mitt made that statement because i rather like Dole. However Like I've said before the more of the good old boys who line up to support McCain the more I am anxious to see a complete change in Washington. Can you just imagine what reforms could take place if you didn't have to pay back favors. McCain keeps saying how he'll work with everyone, I don't doubt that for a second. What I want is a complete house cleaning!We've seen what happens when politics controls the economy I'd like to see it run as a business!

    February 5, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Dinkytown

    Romney is a cowardly weasel. He made the snide comment and then backed up, cringed and tried to muddy the waters. Anyone who would vote for that empty suit is either a villain or a fool.

    February 5, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. Sidney

    To Jack
    I don't think there is a place for those kind of personal attacks anywhere. Now if you were to say I am concerned that Cindi McCain has a substance abuse problem that we detract from the office of President I can see some merit in that. It is well known in Arizona that she struggles. I would rather not have a first lady that struggles with drugs since our youth deserve a better example.

    February 5, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. Mike Birmingham, AL

    To all the people who say they will vote Democrat if McCain is nominated:

    Come on over…there's plenty of room in the Democratic party for you guys!

    We look forward to having yours (and Ann Coulter's) votes in November!

    February 5, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. Alonzo Demetrius

    What our country needs is a good lesson by electing the McCain/Clinton ticket. After that, maybe we will be more careful about who we vote for in the primaries.

    John McCain, if you think all of us citizen patriots out here in the USA are going to stand for your military arrogance, think again. Your military sacrifice was indeed fine, but the President of this country works for the citizens of the USA and not just for military or elected persons.

    Pooh Pooh on your "disgraceful" remarks. Were you elected to "God" and you kept it a secret like you did so many shenanigans with the Democrats?

    February 5, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. GFM

    Walt, Belton TX:

    "When the extremes (Romney and Clinton) fail in their goals, perhaps this nation can begin some serious rebuilding and changing for the better." I have4 news for you pal, Hussein Obama is far, far to the left of even Hil-liary Clinton... He's an out-and-out Socialist. She, of course, has no core political beliefs at all and will say and do anything to attain power. And I don't know what a "far-right winger" is supposed to mean, but conservatives have been, are now, and always be the core of the GOP. You need to get a grip, you old Dole-voter.

    February 5, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Maine

    I take great pleasure in the Republican party's inability to recover from the past eight year's worth of bullying, ignorance and lying. Further proof that conservatism doesn't work.

    Keep looking ahead America. A Clinton/Obama ticket is our one chance to redeem and renew our country.

    February 5, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Susan Mark

    That's kind of a mean comment about Cindy McCain, she is a pretty woman, but she did steal drugs from her own charity and the reason she got off was because of her husbands and family connections.....

    can't get away from the truth...

    please people, so many reasons to vote Mitt,,, go out and do it today.

    Mitt, you're great and thank you for trying to do this....

    February 5, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Tara

    There are very few of us military families at this base who care whether our Commander-in-chief has military experience. Experience on the battlefield will only get you so far. The fact that the budget is in the toilet and our soldiers are fighting without proper armor and equipment implies that we need someone with more financial experience, the kind that will rescue us from the outrageous deficit and keep us from fighting the war with slings and stones. We don't need McCain to tell us how to fight our battles, we need a president who can finance our battles. The war is a small issue when looked at in comparison to the bigger picture – America. Vote Romney!

    February 5, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Dole for pineapple '08!!

    February 5, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Jt February 5, 2008 2:16 pm ET

    McCain owes me an aplogy stating that he will give amnesty to 30 million illegal aliens living in our country, eating up all the welfare they can.

    That shows how little you know, JT. Illegals are not entitled to collect welfare – in fact, 80% of those on welfare and food stamps are white.

    Your racism is showing....

    February 5, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. Ryan SC

    If Bob Dole backs McCain then that shows he is just as liberal as him.Hes no better than anyone else he along with others just trying to help McCain.Ill vote for democrat before a dirty lying senator like McCain. Romney 08

    February 5, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. puddytat

    McCain doesn't care what Romney said ... If he were a TRUE patriot he would uphold the constitution and start talking about deportation ! !

    I am an Independant ... usually vote REP. but I will vote for Obama before I will vote for McCain ... If the Constitution is going to be trampled , the HONOR to do it should be given to a BLACK man , not a white VET that want's us to think of him as a PATRIOT while he's refusing to uphold the Constitution....or a white woman that can't help her own husband stay focused.

    HUCKABEE FOR VICE PRESIDENT ? NOOOOO ... McCain wouldn't listen to him ...
    Might as well vote for Obama.

    ACTUALLY..... it's too bad TANCREDO didn't make it . HE'S THE ONLY ONE THAT HAS NOT ALIENATED WHITE AMERICANS.

    February 5, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. Terry

    Willard Romney and John McCain should just keep on digging! They will be the big losers in November.

    February 5, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. WJH

    Reading this board and ones on the NYTimes site have made me realize there is no hope for America. Everyone is stupid and believes whatever talking head on TV or the radio says. The few intelligent posters have been overwhelmed by the uninformed and uneducated people who can't spell, much less critically analyze anything. And they all get to vote anyway.

    February 5, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. D Berinsky

    For crying out loud, could these candidates come out of the school yard long enough to realize the REAL issues face the American voters, vis a vis the war, the economy, and so many other issues too numerous to mention. The next President should concern him/herself with the problems facing the average American – not concern themselves so much with casting dispersions . Let's get away from the nonsense, please.

    February 5, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. Texas

    Just a word to the willing to listen: Is it wise to vote for a bad tempered person to lead this country? Look around you in the world, what we are trying to avoid. What we want so desperately to avoid, we are becoming.

    McCain will spend more time having temper tantrums and accomplishing nothing.

    I am not a Republican, just a very concerned voter.

    February 5, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. From Arizona

    I'm still waiting for John McCain to apologize to AZ voters who voted for Prop 200. He called our votes "less than worthless".
    Just because you serve your country in a war 100 years ago doesn't give you a license to be a total jerk for the rest of your life.

    February 5, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Randy

    This age of information (or shall I say misinformation) has definitely done nothing but make the election process in this country overdo for a complete overhaul. It use to be the candidates put a spin on what each other has said, now the media has taken that role by spinning one or two comments out of a 1 hour speech. The future will definitely show that the over analyzing and excess of opinions by the media in general will be the undoing of the poitical arena. Show us the debates and keep your opinions and you comments to yourself, with the mistakes in the past polls, you have shown us that you know no more about the candidates and their position than the american public.

    February 5, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. GFM

    factchecker1946 February 5, 2008 1:29 pm ET sez:

    "Bush's budget presented to Congress has a $400,000,000,000,000 deficit – and THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE THE MONEY REQUIRED TO KEEP FIGHTING HIS WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN!!!!"

    Nice try, boob, except that you are a few orders of magnitude off... the budget shortfall submitted by the Bush administration is $400,000,000,000 (billion) not $400,000,000,000,000 (trillion). You see, $400 trillion would be bigger than the entire gross output of the world – for almost 14 years.

    Oh – to all those who think the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent, don't listen to clowns like "factchecker," who is either stupid or a liar. Which, I suppose, makes him automatically a Democrat.

    February 5, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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