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. Patrick Flenniken

    Republicans should have went with Guiliani. New ideas to old problems. Hopefully McCain puts him on the ticket

    February 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  2. puddytat


    My family changed to ( I ) after Clinton. We voted for George TWICE . It's hard to take his war reasoning seriously ...

    If McCain wants to stay at war and not deport illegals and enforce the border laws that were designed to protect us " from enemies abroad and at home " then we don't REALLY need to be at WAR spending lives if the threat to this country isn't serious enough to close the border !

    If he can be BULLIED by radicals who would define every opinion we have supporting DEPORTATION as "HATE SPEECH" then he is a MENACE !

    February 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. MissouriBoiler

    Oh wait is this yet another comment taken out of context for his benefit? Typical washingtan crud. ... typical McCain.

    February 5, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Beto

    Very simple, Dole is not taking calls from Romney. This snafu is going to cost Romney big time as vets vote. What is the saying, "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory". Romy's sons should just keep their father incomicago for the rest of the day.

    February 5, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. Al Marshall

    I hopr Gov Rommey is getting a big return on his investment because he is not getting any votes.

    February 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. John

    John McCain continues to pander to his conservative christian base. It will serve him well now but in the general election he will have to some of his words to apeal too the general population.

    February 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Texas Voter

    McCain should know what "disgraceful" is ...he looks at it in the mirror everyday!! GO MITT!!! McRINO is nothing but a traitor to the GOP.

    February 5, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. kendrick

    go hillary!

    February 5, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. Jay

    CNN you need to put RON PAUL's name on your website as the list of presidential candidates. I SEE YOU PUT RUDY JULIE ANNIE ON YOUR CATEGORIES SIDEBAR AND HE IS NOT EVEN RUNNING ANYMORE


    February 5, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. leslie

    If you were a fair news organization you would print Romney's comments....and not taken out of context. This is just another John McCain "straight talkin' lie. Mitt Romney NEVER said anything about Bob Dole's military record. As a conservative I wouldn't want Bob Dole writing a letter in my behalf either. He wasn't conservative. That's what Romney meant. This is as blatant a lie as McCain's time table accusations. Why can't you report the truth?

    February 5, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Anne E., SLC

    Willard "Mitt" Romney = FLIP-FLOP.

    February 5, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Jdd

    If McCain thinks Romney's remark is disgraceful...lets verify the particulars of him leaving his first wife when she became disabled after automobile accident while he was running with a young future wife from affluent family supporting his earlier campaigns. He thinks being a war hero, he's above all. Give us the real facts on him.

    February 5, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |

    There are many Reps. online, and in California, as well as my family, who agree that if sen. mccain wins, and Sen. Obama wins they will vote for Obama. The only way they will vote for mccain is if clinton wins.There is not much difference between mccain and clinton especialy in character. and this is not just because of our candidate not winning, but because we believe mccain will only hurt our party and our country, and at this point we can't afford mccain or clinton. As for huckabee, he has a right to run, but it is obvious at this point that he will not win, he attacks Gov. Romney for saying that "A vote for huckabee is a vote for mccain". It is true at this point, and Gov. Romney is not the first person to say this, it was in the media before Gov. Romney said it. It is public opinion. huckabee is just fighting for the VP spot and helping out his buddy.

    Thank you



    February 5, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. Jack the Canuck

    Would Obama be getting so much support if he wasn't an African American?
    I think because of political correctness, people are afraid NOT to vote for him and appear racist?

    February 5, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Elaine, Atlanta

    What does Dole has a decorated Vet has to do with the price of rice in China????

    February 5, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. innocent by-stander

    john February 5, 2008 3:27 pm ET

    "By the way…does anybody know how the sheriff got captured
    in the first place?"

    You question might be sarcastic but in any case in case people don't know:

    McCain's aircraft was shot down and he crashed into a lake, he nearly drowned as both his legs and arms broke. The North Vietnamese pulled him out of the water and imprisoned him. He was given a chance to go home after the North Vietnamese found out that his father was in a high position in the US Army to gain good propaganda. He turned down the offer saying that he won't go home unless they let go all other American prisoners who were captured before him. This meant that he stayed in prison for another 5(!) years! He was subjected to systematic torture for years and never once did he leak any information.

    February 5, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Washington

    McCain's support is a bunch of have-beens and also-rans. Bob Dole got the nomination because of people just looking the other way because he was a WWII Vet. Everyone knew he was going to lose. McCain will be the biggest Dole repeat and the only reason to nominate him is if you don't believe Republicans can win anyway and we just want him to shut up once and for all. He's a disgraceful opportunist who is always taking the chance to get his mug on tv. My dislike of him as a person and a politician stems from all he has done and has very little to do with my support for Romney. They are separate. If Romney loses, I still not like John McCain.

    February 5, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. Bob

    The older I get, the more confirmed I am in the belief that no one of strong moral conviction with the intelligence and respect required to run this country will ever get the job. Why? Because they are too smart to run upstream against all the BS career politicians and mindless campaigners throw in their way.

    We have to "settle" for whoever makes it through the nonsensical gauntlet that is the American politcal system.

    February 5, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. Susie Michigan

    I hope the people do wake up. McCain is really showing his true colors. We don't need anyone as president that is always putting some else down. He is too old. Mitt Romney is the only one to turn the US around. He may get back at McCain but McCain is worse. And also Mitt Romney keeps his cool.




    February 5, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. saire

    Romney will receive the republican nomination. Lets be honest, he is the only one truly qualified.

    February 5, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Flash to everyone!

    Dole was no war hero; he got wounded taking aggressive action against the advice of the situation and his superiors.

    It's a fact!

    February 5, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  22. Mari Fernandez, Salt Lake City, UT

    Very ugly and mean of Romney to say what he did about Dole. Here is a man who is running for president who seems to ONLY know two things: throw mud at his opponents and TRY TO BUY the presidency of the United States! How can ANYONE who has researched Romney's record consider him a conservative,?! At best he is a "flip-flopper" and at worst, he is using his money to buy the presidency!

    I am an Independent, hoping and praying that I can vote for Sen. Obama!

    February 5, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. Chris, Silicon Valley, CA, USA

    It would be tough to be a Romney supporter right now.
    As they say, 2 against 1 just ain't a fair fight.

    February 5, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. Wayne, Greenville TX

    saire February 5, 2008 4:29 pm ET

    Romney will receive the republican nomination. Lets be honest, he is the only one truly qualified.

    You cannot use the word "honest" when talking about a Republican...

    February 5, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Kimberly

    mccain's true colors are now showing....That is why i am glad that i casted my vote today for a true conservative ROMney

    February 5, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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