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. RTC

    McCain is trying hard to turn the tables and twist Romney's words.

    February 5, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. Sal in Phoenix

    McCain is so slimmy.He will say whatever works best at any particular moment. He's such a phony.

    February 5, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Chris

    Of course we can't criticize any veteran because the have "served". not Dole, not Kerry and not McCain. No matter how or what they do. McCain needs to let go. Huckabee is playing spoiler. Romney is the only logical candidate. And, "slimmy" is probably supposed to be spelled s-l-i-m-e-y.

    February 5, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Marcus, Great Lakes

    Romney, grow up. The last person? If I was him I would welcome a letter written from him as that would help with the military personal and the veterans. By stating what he did, I am afraid certain military groups will take that remark as a slap in the face. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    February 5, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. Peter

    Romney goes from bad to worse in his foot-in-mouth disease. How utterly presumptuous to suggest that people ("we") vote for McCain because of years served or waiting in line. Speak for yourself, bozo. As a voter, I find THAT remark insulting but totally in line with Romney. And he wonders why his support isn't stronger than it is. Here's a recommendation: Look in the mirror for your answer.

    February 5, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. Edward

    John McCain needs to stop worrying about who was a veteran from what war, how long they served, and if they were decorated, and begin to work on domestic issues. Between him and Romney, Romney is the only person who seems concerned with the economy, and has a plan to fix it. Whether it will work or not is a different story, but at least he has offered a plan and has experience with economics. Just because you were a war hero or a veteran does not necessarily make you qualified to lead America.

    February 5, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Bukky

    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."

    I respect the War Hero status but that doesn't mean you are without faults. All this "you can't say ANYTHING bad about him because he went to WAR" is BS.

    YES praise a man because he went to WAR but DO NOT be afraid to challenge him on issue SEPERATE FROM HIS OWN EXPERIENCE in the war just because of his war efforts.

    February 5, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Ba Gua

    Conservatives are NOT the only kind of Republicans. Somehow these right-wing ideologues tar and feather even their own kind if they don't fit their "conservative" mold. Short-sighted, self-centered and adding to the divisiveness already too rampant in our country and culture.

    February 5, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Bob

    I'll tell you what is disgraceful, John McCain making fun of the war in Iraq by pronouncing "Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran". Our country will be in the Middle East forever if McCain becomes President!

    February 5, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. Wes

    Both are hurting themselves by showing their true colors. It's probably all for nothing anyway as the Republican party is fractured. Large numbers of conservatives are questioning the party's stance on Iraq and the economy. The Republican Party has been hijacked.

    Ron Paul 08!

    February 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. kathy

    Rush Limbaugh has never been a favorite of mine - until this election!!! Every time John McCain twists a truth and throws his war hero history into the mix, Rush has been immediately addressing it and cleaning the slate for Romney.

    It is true, per Rush, that war heroes usually don't broadcast that and wear it on their sleeve as McCain has been doing. They quietly hold their pride and honor within.

    February 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  12. Sarah

    So, once again we see the true, nasty nature of Mitt Romney! If this man who never served a day in his life can't respect a WWII hero like Bob Dole, then he certainly does not deserve to be commander-in-chief! Romney is an imperious, strutting buffoon who's time on the political stage should be done after the polls close tonight, God willing!

    February 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. AC

    With every primary win McCain looks more and more giddy and less presidential.
    Conservatives unite!
    Mit needs us today!

    February 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. p-brain, Bucyrus, OH

    Let's just elect our Presidents on the basis of how much they suffered while in the military. It'll be like the old TV show "Queen for a Day," except that the perks are more lavish.

    February 5, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    The extent to which all the neocons seem to take pride in being authoritarian bigots amazes me. The only true Conservative running is Ron Paul.

    February 5, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Barbara Rees, Canada

    Yes you will have a woman and a black in the Whitehouse. President Obama & Vice-President Whinfrey. Good luck! How dare Ms Whinfrey think she has to 'Give Permission' to the women of America to vote for a 'non-female' candidate!

    February 5, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Carol

    Instead of SETTLING for McCain why don't you all support Mike Huckabee? That's the most logical answer. If you don't want McCain, THEN do you want Hillery or Obama or Mitt ? THE CHOICE IS UP TO THE voters. GO OUT and VOTE !
    Stop belly aching. VOTE !

    February 5, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. California primary voter

    Apparently Romney spent $40 million of his own money for his campaign. That's his right. He also helped run a management consulting company that made money by advising consolidation and reduction of thousands of workers. That was maybe necessary. What is really, really weird is that he doesn't seem to defend any of his stands. I don't have to agree with everything he says, but I do want to see him take a stand and then stick to it. How is he going to lead if he keeps changing his mind on everything??

    February 5, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. Joshua Steimle

    Once again, McCain is twisting things for purely political purposes. His campaign leaked this letter to his friends in the press and of course there's little time for Romney to explain himself prior to the voting today. Romney was disparaging Dole at all, he was merely saying his campaign was poorly run (which it was by all standards) and that he was beaten big time by the Clintons (nobody can argue that) and that it's going to happen again. His comment doesn't say anything about Bob Dole personally, as McCain is saying.

    But what should we expect? McCain already has showed he's willing to blatantly lie about Romney's record about a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. This probably takes second place compared to that, but of course the media won't pay much attention to either. They'll continue to publish the false allegations against Romney, hoping they stick, while ignoring the real story about McCain telling lies for political gain.

    February 5, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. Contentbelle

    Voters should look at John McCain's record. He voted more liberal than Hilary Clinton. He should retire; that's some strait talk.

    Johns attitude , who is he too DEMAND for anyone to appologize; he isn't Mitts; Daddy ; stop acting like a Grandpa everyone is ignoring.

    America don't let this sniping take the focus off of John McCain' Liberalism!

    Giddy up America.

    February 5, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. Bob

    The real issue here is McCain's twisting of the story. Please, please pay attention to the truth of what has happend:

    According to Rush Limbaugh, Dole did not give a full-throated endorsement of McCain, but simply tried to lay out his record, highlighting both good and bad in terms of conservative issues. In fact, Dole was later questioned on air and said he didn't "have a dog in this race!" The media's reporting otherwise is simply a lie!!

    Second, Romney did not denegrate Dole's record, but simply said he didn't think a letter (read 'endorsement') from Dole would mean anything to him. Nothing Romney said implied that Dole was less than a patriot, nor was his serivce during WWII ever in question. McCain's indignation toward Romney is thus misplaced, incorrect, and just plain immature.

    This was clearly a political attack that shows the desperation of the McCain campaign. He is simply trying to create a tempest in a teapot on Super Tuesday, much the same way he twisted the issue of timetables to make Romney seem less 'conservative' in his war solution.

    For me, this just proves that McCain is stooping to smear tactics that are just sophomoric. For being 72, he sure isn't acting as if he's gained any wisdom during those many years!

    February 5, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. Matt

    Go Mitt!

    We can't afford a McCain/Clinton/Obama presidency!!

    February 5, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. Chris, Bethesda, Maryland

    Overreaction in my opinion. Romney's comment should have been allowed to slide. It had nothing to do with Dole's war record or patriotism, it was simply a tantrum thrown at Dole for not selecting him. A (barely) more adult version of "I never liked you anyway."

    February 5, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. case

    Romney is the fakest politician I have ever seen, I wonder if he melts in the hot sun. McCain is in la-la land. The terroists will surrender, I mean come on man people that are willing to strap bombs to special needs people at a pet market will never surrender. Romney slime, McCain war... which is worse?

    February 5, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. Scott

    All I know is the media loves McCain and hates Romney, and they are doing thier best to influence the election. I would not vote for either, but this kind of bias is not right. The media is here to report, not tell us who to vote for.

    February 5, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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