February 5th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
8 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. Brooklyn Latina

    McCain is Bob Dole 1996...war hero, old guy, tried/lost for President, long-time senator "His turn"...lost big to a younger, hipper guy...

    McCain will lose to Obama...

    Old, ugly versus young happy.

    Old loses. Especially when old is angry, political insider, owes favors to Ted Kennedy, and is not a defender of conservative values (like marriage–he dumped his wife and kids for a multi-millionaire 26 year old...no skirt chasing husband will ever get my vote!)

    Mitt Romney will set the country on the RIGHT course!

    Mitt Romney is presidential.

    February 5, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Dave

    Once again, Romney proves he'll say whatever he needs to seem like he's on the right side (no pun intended). He can't even fathom that enough video footage exists to prove how many times he's backpedaled. Seems like there's enough gullible hypocrite rescumlicans to fall for his garbage like they did for Bush-and now they want more time to try and do something correctly for this country. They just can't stand the fact that Bush had 8 years to do something and did nothing but #@$! this country up-THAT will always be Bush's legacy-deal with it. Where was Romney's time serving his country? He's another coward just like Bush.

    February 5, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. 2_TRUE_4 U

    HEY JACK ! ! ! That "Barbie wanna be" is another reason I wouldn't vote for McCain

    she makes him look like a "BOOBY BAR PATRON "

    happy now ?

    February 5, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Shannon

    GO HUCKABEE! Trust in the LORD and ANYTHING is possible. In GOD we TRUST.

    February 5, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. Gil - California

    Whethe or not this shines a good light on McCain, I can't say and my vote this morning is on the democratic primary. However, Mitt said that Dole was probably the last person he would want to send a letter for him. Today Mitt says he'd be proud to have Dole support him. Which is it? Mitt is a goof head and while I'd rather vote for him than Hillary (if my party is so stupid) that isn't really saying much. I'd vote for any republican over Hillary.

    The fact of the matter is that I really don't think it matters who the Republicans pick. If Obama (I hope) is the Democrat nominee, the Republican's will lose. If Clinton is the Democrat nominee, the Republican's will win.

    And while I am a Democrat today, I fully intend to shift to Independant shortly. I left the Republicans several years back and am now convinced that neither party is the party that really belongs to me. You have Rush and Bill O and Norris and all those clowns on one side and Rosie and Michael and Babs on this side. Send in the clowns all you want, the two party circus is about to go the way of the Betamax.

    February 5, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. mike

    I think everyone here is missing the point. Bob Dole was injured in battle leaving him with a bad right arm. That is why he clutches a pen.
    Romney was making a joke about how he wouldn't want a guy with a bad right hand to write a letter for him. That was what was in bad taste. McCain is not saying you can't criticize a vet, but that you shouldn't make fun of their injuries.

    February 5, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. 2_TRUE_4 U

    JUAN is the reason McCain should not be trusted ... Juan wants nothing more than to destroy OUR constitution. Why don't he go to Mexico and make all that noise ?
    He wouldn't last from 12 till noon. And I don't know why he hasn't been arrested for HATE SPEECH against white America.

    February 5, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. russ

    McCain is a lier and like a kid holds grudges against people and he has a temper. Not a good combination for a president. He needs to realize he is not the only war hero and that does not qualify him to "lead". Dole did not really endorse McCain but he acts like Dole did. Another lie.

    February 5, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. JIm

    Romney seems to be another candidate that opens mouth and inserts foot. Maybe he should think before commenting, oh thats right he doesn't think he needs to.

    February 5, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. puddytat

    Romney has big business all over the Globe... who's interest is he going to look out for ????

    February 5, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. Carrie

    Bob Dole is a war hero, decent man. Romney's comments were disgraceful.

    Obama 08!

    February 5, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. puddytat


    February 5, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. puddytat


    February 5, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. Al, Sacramento Ca

    Phony, flip-flopper Mitt, I am not suprised. After today, he will bite the dust and so will Huckabee.

    February 5, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. john

    Nobody owes anybody an apology. At least Dole fought in a war that was
    legitimate and we won. At least Dole never got taken prisoner(the first thing
    you learn in boot camp). McCain fought in a war that never should have
    happened. A war presided over by Henry Kissinger, who now endorses
    McCain! By the way...does anybody know how the sheriff got captured
    in the first place?

    February 5, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Dudley Fernandez

    Wy would Dole stoop down to the level of Limbaugh?

    February 5, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. Amazed


    Supider-is that your idea of a intelligent word to use?

    Julie Thomas-
    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.

    What do you think Bush is???

    February 5, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. Independent in IA

    Dole IS a genuine war hero, unlike McCain, who uses his "ex-prisoner-of-war" status as often and as disgustingly as Guiliani used 9/ll.

    I'm afraid that his time in detention has warped McCain irreparibly, witnessed by his uncontrolled outbursts of anger and venom at anyone who stands in his way. He's a loose cannon waiting to go "BOOM".

    February 5, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Lisa

    It's as if you're branded disgraceful if you insult someone who is a veteran. Granted, the best thing for Romney to do would have been to clarify that point at that moment, but he didn't. I'm really getting tired of the media playing up these quotes, and I'm tired of the candidates harping on their fellow candidates who make these comments. What happend to Freedom of Speech? Don't apologize!!! I'm sure Mitt has the utmost respect for Dole, but come on, this war of words and the medias overkill of it is really growing old.

    February 5, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  20. Heather

    I do not feel that Bob Dole would be bothered by Romney's comments! Anyone that watches SNL knows that Bob Dole can take a joke! He is a funny guy!

    February 5, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Midge from Ohio

    Being a war hero is very noble, but it doesn't make you better or smarter than anyone else. I think Romney's remark probably had to to with something Dole has done in the last 50 years since being a war hero, and not something from the 1940s when he was a war hero. McCain should quit living in the past. If McCain wins the nomination I will vote Democratic.

    February 5, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. Shannon

    Well this just convinces me even more than Romney is a jerk and I was right in casting my ballot for McCain!

    February 5, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. Colby

    McCain owes ME and the rest of us an apology for screwing up the definition of a CONSERVATIVE! He scares me.... BIG TIME!

    Go Mitt!

    February 5, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. William A

    You know I respected John McCain and his service for his country. And admired his bravery as a POW. But, I'm getting really tired of him using his Military Service as a cop out for every criticism related to his Campaign.

    I greatly admired and respected my Dad who was a WII Veteran. Who as a Seargeant fought on the front lines for six years. He received many medals and marched proudly on every Veteran's Day. When he came home he was given no preferential treatment. When he took ill, as a result of his war injuries during he couldn't get the pension he rightfully deserved. My mother worked all her married life as a result to keep our family going. And I worked while attending high school from age fourteen to help her out.

    So John, your not the only Vet who sacrificed. They all sacrificed. Some to a greater or lesser extent. But, I'm sure you'll agree when you have served your country in time of war, all sacrifices you made are great ones.

    All Veterans, all present active military are deserving of our praise, admiration, respect and gratitude. But you are no more deserving than others. My Dad never once spoke of his battles in War. I heard of his many brave deeds from his two younger brothers that were with him. My Dad was a humble man. Who during his fifty-seven years on earth never once spoke of his active duty or military achievements.

    February 5, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. Jimmy

    I think sen Mccain believes that all veterans are war heros and great presidential material, well we should have several million canditates vying for the White House, but were lucky, most veterans have a lot more sense than Sen Mccain

    February 5, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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