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. JJ McClure

    No mere WW II veteran can match the Mormon and his magic underpants! Th only thing better is a Scientologist running for President!

    February 5, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Nathan Prophet, Raleigh, NC

    I notice that McCain referred to Dole as a "genuine war hero." This is to distinguish Dole from McCain who is NOT a "genuine" war hero – he is a self-promoted and media-promoted "war hero." Look at the facts: McCain was shot down and was a POW. True, he showed great personal strength and determination, but "war hero" he is NOT! Most "genuine" war heroes are dead, having sacrificed themselves to save the lives of other people. By the way, what makes Dole a "genuine" war hero?

    February 5, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. Katrina

    Another nonsense story. Neither GOP candidate has any chance of winning (unless Americans) are completely brainless like in 2000 and 2004. Wake -up America!

    February 5, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Ricardo Escobar

    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.”

    This is pure and simple changing of positions for convenience. Isn't this exactly the mental set that Romney uses on ilegal immigrants? They are only good if they've being waiting many years in line? Who cares about the geopolitical interests of the USA? Come on Mr. Romney, give me a break.

    February 5, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. Chris, Jacksonville

    Neither one of these guys are acceptable to me.

    I am proud to be an Independent and very proud to be a FORMER Republican.

    Vote:

    None of the Above '08

    February 5, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. fightingformyrights

    Mitt Romney is such a wonderful person who keeps getting attacked for every word that comes out of his mouth. It is biased and unfair because the other candadates say many things which is often swept under the rug. People try to twist and spin things but Mitt Romney shows true character and can pull our economy out of the mess it is in!

    February 5, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. bearable

    Any disgrace is McCain's for posing as a conservative. Enough already about the war hero stuff; we are hoping to elect a PRESIDENT not a uniformed warrior.

    February 5, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. joe rullo

    Last time I checked Romney was not in the letter? Neutral? HA.......... You go MItt. Romney will sweep CA and most states again the polls will be wrong. THE PEOPLE VOTE NOT THE POLLS.

    February 5, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  9. slapshot23

    Obviously McCain would issue with Romney comment, after all Dole was endorsing him. McCain is such a hypocrite really. Where was he 4 years ago when the Republican was using the swift boat dirty politics to discrditing John Kerry patriotic service to this country. Don't remember him saying squat, then again I guess he was too busy working on some of those lame Bill with the Liberal Democrats. As Chuck Norris blatantly put it "John McCain" is too old and it shows in the way he thinks. This country need change for the future generation.

    February 5, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. CranialRectalLoopback

    Wow. I don't remember McStain being so quick to demand the swifties apologize to Kerry,

    February 5, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. HolyOK

    McCain is so liberal he breaths the air exhaled by Hillary Clinton. Romney's comments are, were and will be taken out of context and spun to hurt him by a liberally slanted media. They love McCain because he is left of center. Look at his record folks. Who does he join to forward a liberal agenda in the Senate? Why is it that so few Republican Senators are standing up for this hot heated left leaning democrat in a republican primary. Wake up folks and take a close look. If the huckster wasn't making back room deals with McCain he would pull out and let the votes fall where they belong, with Romney.

    February 5, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Take a long look in the mirror, McCain, if you want to call a person's statement, 'disgraceful.' McCain has repeatedly charged Romney with False Statements and Untruthful Accusations. McCain is the one who should apologize to Romney. McCain is desperate for votes and endorsements, and Romney is correct. Just because a person has been 'waiting in line' and been around 'longer than he should have' doesn't pack any weight and doesn't guarantee that he's the 'best person for the job of President.' This can also be said of Hillary. So what if she was living in the White House and was a First Lady? She had nothing to do with the Presidency, or so the American People Thought! She was not a Leader all those years, but a spouse of an amoral man. Just because she's been around, doesn't make her the 'proven leader.' Obama is giving her a run, and he will probably destroy her quest for President. The BEST MAN ALWAYS WINS! A Voter can decide who to vote for himself; it is a personal issue. A Vote Cast is NOT because of an Endorsement!

    February 5, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Kendall

    I completely agree with comments previously that suggest that the American media are out to sink the Romney campaign. Everything in the media about Romney has a negative connotation to it while every other candidate, both Republican and Democratic, seems to get a more unbias portrayal.

    Enough with the "flip flopper" comments. Everyone of you on this board is a "flip flopper", especially if you are a parent. Nobody can say that they haven't told there kids one thing and not done something completely opposite. "Johnny put that down or your grounded!", but somehow Johnny never gets grounded. Yes, my example is a bit juvenile, but so is the attitude of many of you who suggest that it is wrong for someone to change a position on an issue, especially after several years when they have obtained more information and more experience.

    I do believe that Gov. Romney should be the next president. He would be a new face to Washington, he has the business experience which brings with it the ability to make tough decisions, he has the experience of running a government – neither McCain, Clinton, or Obama (all Senators) can claim that.

    However, the American media and, to some extent the American public for believing the media, will likely get McCain elected. Why? Because, for as big and as proud and as powerful as America says they are and wants to be, they will not elected a woman, a black man, or a Mormon to be their president.

    February 5, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Jeff

    The Constitution has little relevance to the government, but still it's interesting to note that the crazed John McCain was born, to his state-connected parents, in the Panama Canal Zone. The Zone, the product of US imperialism under the the crazed Teddy Roosevelt, was never officially US territory. That is, McCain was born in a foreign country, and therefore not eligible to be president, according to the Constitution.

    February 5, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. Dave W

    Rush and Coulter and Hannity have all damaged themselves more than they have damaged McCain. Clearly, the Republican base has shifted closer to the center. We Republicans need to recognize the shift and move ourselves behind the emerging leader quickly or we will lose the November contest. With a stupid war as a lasting tribute to 8 years of Bush it is going to be a tough election this fall. McCain is a moderate who can win. He was not my first choice either, but he's the only one who wins consistently in one-on-one polls against Hillary and Obama. McCain is my man.

    We need to re-take the White house in order to preserve the judicial branch as a conservative vector. By next year's inauguration 6 of the 9 justices of the supreme court will be over 70. The next president will be re-shaping the Supreme Court for decades into the future. It is simply not okay for us to choose a nominee who is perfect yet unelectable.

    McCain is not perfect. But he is a proven conservative and he is our only hope.

    February 5, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. Brian

    Yeah, like the guy in the $4,000 suit needs an endorsement from Dole. C'MON!

    February 5, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. rodlang

    Bottom line is this....both Dole and McCain served and paid the price. Mitt, Rush, Hannity, Ingraham, Coulter, et al never got close to wearing a uniform or serving in combat. And where are Mitt's five healthy sons? Guess he raised them not to serve. Like father, like son.

    February 5, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Art H

    I think McCain is desperate and when he gets desperate, he starts losing his temper and making mistakes. He does not have the temperament to be the president, frankly.

    Romney stated the truth. That an endorsement or letter from Bob Dole carries zero weight with the republican rank and file. All the "independent" votes that McCain is getting now, will evaporate, during the General election, when they would turn away from McCain to a Clinton or an Obama.

    The "straight talk express' is starting to sound pretty shrill and is now coming across as a "desperate to win at any cost express" now.

    February 5, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Nick

    You should include the whole text of the Romney quote about Bob Dole, as has MSNBC in the name of honest journalism.

    He simply and quite obviously (when read in context) meant that establishment John McCain was being endorsed by establishment Bob Dole. Contributing to the efforts of the McCain campaign to blow the comment out of proportion and make it seem as if Romney were attacking a "war hero" is just misleading. Come on CNN, don't be so obviously pro-McCain on the Republican side.

    February 5, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. ynotw57

    Politicians will harp on anything that will make them seem the better person, especially when it's defaming another's character or supporting a historically significant person that has nothing to do with their campaign.

    That being said, slinging mud to make someone look dirty leaves the doer's hands unclean. If politicians really want to make themselves appear better, they should let other's misstatements go and let the media take the role of mud slinger; the media tends to be good at that anyway.

    February 5, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Linda

    Why is anybody even giving a junkie (Rush) the time of day???

    February 5, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Mitt will win!!!

    The problem is with the Washington insiders!!!!

    Mitt Romney is not a Washington insider like McLaim, Obama and Hillary

    McLaim, Obama and Hillary they are part of the problem

    You can not fix Washington just by having one of the Senators switch seats!!!!!

    There is very little difference in the voting records of McLaim, Obama and Hillary.

    Vote for Mitt Romney the person with executive experience.

    Vote for Mitt Romney!!!!!!!!!!

    February 5, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. jp

    After tonight, it won't matter what romney and his pathetic campaign will have to say. See ya Willard!

    February 5, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. MJ

    McCain has Juan Hernandez on his campaign staff. Former Mexican cabinet member who says that 7th Generation Mexican Americans should think of themselves as Mexican first. McCain's campaign treasurer is the founder of Univision spanish language television. Do your homework. I am a republican who will never vote for McAmnesty.

    February 5, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. Adam from Ohio

    UUGGGGGH, good god, you can't say something bad about a person if that person served in the military? You can't have legitimate complaints about other aspects of a person's life? What is this, a democracy under civilian leadership, or a military dictatorship? Stuff it, McCain!

    February 5, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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