(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
Why dont you all just vote for me? Im not a Washington Insider and I know when to shut up when needed. I'll cut all taxes and increase all program funding. Just dont ask how I'll do it and I wont then have to tell you.
McCain should be ashamed of himself for taking the Dole message out of context. ANY OF YOU WHO THINK MCCAIN IS CONSERVATIVE HAVE NOT...I REPEAT– NOT - DONE YOUR RESEARCH!!!
David said: 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.
David, you need to get your priorities straight. We should be Americans first, and then members of a political party. Loyalty to a party should NEVER come before loyalty to the nation. We fought people in WWII and the Cold War who made party loyalty number one.
That's the problem in this country; too many Republicans and Democrats, and not enough Americans.
My vote is for McCain, because he can reach out to moderates, independents and even Democrats.
"People shouldn’t think that McCain has this rapped up."
Rapped up? RAPPED up??
Another home-schooled Republican, eh?
Romney is the answer. McCain will do the same thing he's done in the senate for the past 2 1/2 DECADES. NOTHING. He'll support more liberal legislation to allow amnesty for illegals, promote tax increases, etc etc.
I can't believe that the American voters are even thinking about voting for this guy. Loose lips sink ships, do you really want this fellow running your country, you have got to be kidding me. Vote Huckabee!
Johnny Mc is the disgraceful one.. he's the distortionist. distorting what mitt has said about troops in iraq. Now wants to cry wolf over the dole remark. Someone tell McAmnesty he cant have both sides of the coin. that's why he soo smug.. cause he a low lying slug. an opportunist at best. I wouldn't follow this man anywhere..as an vietnam vet also and a conservative republican.. i'll vote ABC (anybody but mccain) in the general. This guy is an unethical toad..
McCain WOULDN'T have benefited from Dole's letter, until Romney opened his mouth and made the letter national news. It's like his comment last week about Huckabee. This guy has big trouble controlling his mouth. I think that is a serious problem in one who wants to be our president. If Romney loses, as looks likely, he has only himself to blame
Any one who's actively endorsed by that big, fat, fool of man–Rush Limbaugh–should be very worried. The American people are sick and tired of the divisive tactics of such pundits.
Is it me, or do these guys sound like children?
It is more of a DISGRACE that anyone would put any credibilaty in anything Rush Limbaugh would have to say about nanybody or anything. HIS reputation is far from Honorable
McCain has mentioned that young people will serve our country instead of their self interests under his presidency. Has anyone thought to ask him if he is planning to reinstate the draft? He is pro-military after all. Once again, candidates are not being specific about what their plans are once in office.
The only straight talk we've been getting lately is from Romney. Bob Dole is an American hero, but he was a lousy GOP candidate who got us four more years of Clinton. Let's PLEASE avoid another "Dole scenario" in 2008!
Shame on you, McCain, taking that out of context. McCain only has a few lines of attack – attack Romney's character through misrepresentation (because there's nothing in his actual record to get upset about), and mention the word 'war' as many times as possible.
Oh, and name drop as much as possible so that he can remember just how many people he owes favors to.
Some needs to tell McCain that Benedict Arnold was a war hero also. Just because you serve your country does not mean that you get the automatic bid for president. The WAR is not the only issue we are dealing with right not. We won't have a war at all if the economy falls apart and this country crashes. McCain has publicly said he does not have the experience to run the economy and turn this country back around.
Trust your heart and not the media vote for Romney and bring Washington back.
The only flipping Romney will do is with Washington.
Romney needs to stand against the GOP that support McCain! McCain almost left the GOP because most of positions align WITH THE DEMOCRATS!!!!!
These guys are living on their "war" records...that's great that they served this country but let's be real...Dole...that was a mistake to run him for president ..."it's his turn"...give me a break...you don't give the nomination for president becasue it's his turn....and that's want Romney meant with his statement...nothing more, nothing less.....MicCain "will be" a mistatke....he's the Republican Party's Dole.
Another smoke screen by McCain!
The way I see it, the only person out there that is a uniter is Huckabee. Just look at all of these pathetic comments, ie – McCain is this or that, Romney is this or that, etc.
Romney – spent $100 million to get to the point that Huckabee is after spending $7 million. Do you really want him handling your purse strings?
Oversaw the Big Dig which went 13 billion over budget. Again, whose purse strings should he handle?
He has already alienated Mike when he said Mike should get out of the race. What business is it of his to tell opponents to get out of the race?
How did Romney make his millions? By laying off your elders and then taking some of the profits of the smaller company, and leaving the rest to the CEO's. Is this who you want leading the country?
There are only two candidates that can unite both parties and get anything done in Washington. One is Obama, who has little to no experience in managing anything. The other is Mike Huckabee. As a transplanted Yankee, I am now in receipt of the government that he put in place. I can tell you that it is a far more enjoyable place to be than anything in the northeast.
Oh, please...the republicans didn't have any trouble tarnishing John Kerry's war record though, did they? I respect McCain's war record, and haven't forgotten it. How could we. He never fails to remind us. But that's the 60's and 70's, tell me something you've done in the last year or something you're going to do in the future for the American people, besides keeping us in a unjust war for another 100 years, Mr. McCain.
I would have voted for McCain in one of the last elections, but his arrogant, snide and riduculing attitude towards the other candidates in the debates has changed my mind about him in this election! I think I saw the 'real' McCain this time.
Mr. Romney, just because you have money, it does not give you the right to insult Mr. Dole or anyone else. You are trying to buy the nomination, but your behaviour speaks volumes of the type of person you are. Clearly, insulting Mr. Dole brings you down a notch as a human being. While Mr. Dole spent his life serving the cause of Freedom, you have spent yours in the cause of making money on the backs of others. Your behaviour is going to make it very difficult, for any republican nominee to win the presidential race.
Being a POW does NOT entitle a mediocre, bitter skirt-chaser to be our next president.
I read on this post that Romney is sheer rhetoric and that he doesn't do what he says. . . HA HA HA HA HAAA! That's a joke right!? I sure hope so, if it's not, you my friend are a fool and I don't know what evidence you have that supports Romney being a talker not a doer. That's Romney by definition, he's a doer. He's done it, fixed it, worked hard and worked even harder. He's never been just rhetoric, he's all about doing.
McCain is such a squid, I didnt hear the negative comment about Dole's service as McCain did, he is either lying, or as is the case with SOME older folks, the mind is the first thing that goes.
The great flip-flopper flops again!