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. Bill

    I love the Republicans sniping at each other. Keep it up. A divided party bodes well for an Obama presidency.

    You people claiming that Romney is the "true conservative" are unbelievable. Look at what he's said (and done) over the course of his political career vs. what he's said since the last primary. Not that I care either way. The Dems will eat either candidate alive in the generals.

    But, I'm always fascinated by certain Republicans never letting facts get in the way of their point of view.

    February 5, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Mary

    It amazes me how Mr. Romney is such a "supporter of the war"; Calls veterans 'heros', and yet....if he thinks the war is SUCH a great idea.....why aren't his military aged, eligible sons signing up?!!! Sometimes slips of the tongue can reveal true, deep-seated opinions usually hidden from public view. Hidden especially during a political campaign.

    February 5, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. AJ

    Oh please, Bob Viagra Dole is a putz. When he did the Viagra add, now that was shameful and denigrating.

    February 5, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. FELISA

    Mitt Romney is a makes me physical ill everytime I see his fake smile. You Repulicans are losers.

    February 5, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Vince

    Blayze: I agree with you entirely. I am so tired of all the military/veteran/patriotic lingo. I want to ask them: Did you enlist to serve your country or so you could get a free education, a meal ticket or possibly be exempt from criticism? Do you talk about it so much because you need validation?
    Veterans: You served your country...very honorable indeed. NOW SHUT UP ABOUT IT! It doesn't make your opionion any more important!

    February 5, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Robert

    McCain is disgraceful. He is doing the same garbage he did right before Florida. I hope Romney wins, and shows that McCain's bad tactics, and stance on illegal immigration is the reason.

    February 5, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. Dennis

    This notion that Romney is going to somehow expose Washington for what it has become is kind of laughable. Look at the current and last Presidents. Both Governors. Neither was a Washington insider or a Senator. How exactly is Romney a change from that?

    That said, on the GOP side of things, I'm undecided. Both McCain and Romney have some good ideas.

    February 5, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Wiselectorate

    The Republican base is fractured, but who can pull it together???????

    February 5, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. Maryann - Orlando, FL

    Just from reading this thread, it is apparent to me that the Republicans are just as divided as Democrats!

    Solution: RON PAUL! True conservative, constitutionalist, and he DOES NOT PANDER!

    Too bad everyone is blinded by the 'front-runners' that they can't see we NEED Ron Paul!

    February 5, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. chisholm

    Doesn't Bob Dole have a purple heart?

    I thought the Republicans all made fun of purple hearts.

    February 5, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. Steve K

    Amazing how Romney's comment is both "disgraceful" and and an insult to an American hero. I recall how Courageous John was nowhere to be found when it came time to rebut the Swift Boat smear campaign. Straight talk indeed.

    February 5, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. Roz

    McCain is acting like a petty child in the school yard.
    Tiday he is going to find out just how unliked he really is. WAHOOO! bye bye "straight talk express" and hello to common sense.

    February 5, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Fitz

    I will say this again – Romney is nothing but empty rhetoric – telling folks in MI that he will bring jobs back when He (former Bain consultant) clearly knows that it is next to impossible to back it up. So what if he had a successful career as a corporate raider/VC manager – they believe in slash and burn tactics – CEOs fend for themselves and make decisions that are mostly short-term focussed, they never care about employees. My friend our curremt President Bush also rode the "I am a doer/not a washington insider/was a state governor" platform – look what that has gotten us? Romney is a slick used car sales man – don't buy the car he sells – you will end up with a lemon!

    February 5, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. scottasmith

    How desperate is Romney – is there anything he won't say – is there anyone he won't insult. D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T-E

    Mitt, you are a better person that this – but the people will never know it. Stop listening to your "handlers".

    February 5, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Rapture

    Just to clarify:

    I am an independant. Always have been, always will be. I find political parties exhausting and pointless. They take away the voice of reason, and all you are left with are two sides who do nothing but bicker and argue, but with no one getting down to the nitty gritty. Neither can seem to compromise.

    I think the entire political party system should be abolished.

    I mean look at it. Republicans fighting because someone is not as conservative as they like? Who cares? With uber right wing nutcases like Romney running, the GOP will never win the election, unless they can change. Huckabee and Romney, honestly worry me with their zealous religious positions. I do not want a person running our country that believes the world is 4000 years old and that man killed the dinosaurs. Its silly. Its stupid. And it completely proven wrong.

    And please, the democratic race?

    A complete and utter joke. Nothing more than a race/gender competition. Both candidates are uninspiring (as are most of the republicans for that matter
    ). I see nothing positive in international affairs that either candidate can offer the US. And I realize that people want the war to end, but you can't just stop something your in the middle of and ignore whats going on. It happened after Bush Sr. and during Clinton's time, and look what happened.

    Honestly, my biggest issues this time around are gay marriage, the war and taxes. I'm tired of my hard earned money being taken to support other people. As mean as it sounds, I am 1 year out of college and struggling with money. Why should I pay for others, when I'm trying to get by? and who cares if homosexuals want to get married/united? Its their business.

    So what does all this mean?

    Unless Andrew Ryan comes and builds an underwater Utopia where "a man is entitled to the sweat of his brow," I'm voting McCain. He's the closet hope we have (besides Paul, who seems to be a slight nutcase), to crossing the party lines and shaking the entire party system, which is utterly ridiculous and unfair to those in between.

    February 5, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. Ken, Suitland MD

    Hey, E.C. and all you moronic wing-nuts that like to call yourself conservative. You don't even know the definition of the word. There's little about you people that are conservative. What you are arguing about is which candidate is more right wing.

    You guys have voted in the current disaster-in-charge twice, and would gladly do it again. With that kind of anti-american, non-conservative track record, why should anyone even listen to you?

    For those of you that did vote in Mr. bozo-in-charge and that are looking to vote [R] again, I suggest you look out for those sneaky terrorists that you like to use as part of your fear-mongering: they are now resorting to strapping bombs onto special needs people, and that would make you guys prime candidates to be the strap-ees.

    February 5, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. al

    I have absolutely no respect for that creepy piece of crap McCain. He is an f'n old man. Too old to be president. We would then have to supply the white house with Depends for the next 2 years, until he cant be pres anymore. Hopefully the azzwipe picks a decent vp. probably not though. I am sure it will be Hickabee.

    February 5, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. Gary B

    These guys don't get. The labeling of candidates has to stop. We the people are looking for the best candidate to turn this ship around. I want someone who can get something done and work with bothsides of the isle. Bob Dole is a great American who should be above this kind of name calling. Remember he was a guy who knew how to work with both sides.

    February 5, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. Lori McManus

    Why don't you report the truth of the matter. McCain lied and said Dole supported him in letter and once again distorted the truth. Rush has said today that he is lying about the letter and also manipulating Romneys response. Once again the media will only report McCains side and not report the truth. Dole said he had respect for all the candidates and didnt endorse any of them. Eager to expose anyone other than McCain's Lies. How do you do it?

    February 5, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Chad

    You McCain bashers are starting to sound like our fundamentalist friends out east. You're getting all wound up over someone who is not as extreme as Rush or Anne. It's not too hard to draw a parallel between the strife in the M.E. and where we're headed if we don't find a leader to unite us. I find it refreshing that fewer of us republicans are falling for this "my way or the highway" ego trip and willing to vote for someone a little more moderate that will work towards solving some of the problems of this country. Mitt will only divide us further and do the bidding of the corporations. I wonder how that shoe tasted that he stuck in his mouth. GO McCAIN!!

    February 5, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Bob, Seattle

    During Dole's interview on Hannity & Colmes, it came out that McCain had a higher conservative rating than Dole himself and another highly conservative patriarch, Jesse Helms.

    Why do Limbaugh and Hannity think that they have so much power? Hopefully, these two right wing conservative mouthpieces will undergo a humbling transformation. They aren't who they thought they were. They ain't all that powerful. Americans love independent thinkers. They love the underdog. They love American heroes. Above all, they want a Congress that will WORK TOGETHER to get something done instead of the totally ignorant practice of supporting you party at all costs. America needs a steady hand at the helm.

    Go McCain.

    February 5, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. Christian

    Mitt Romney is fake. Often flip floppin on issues just to attract supporter wherever he campaigns. Disrespecting our hero's across the nation just because they have chosen not to endorse him. This tells us a lot obout Romney!!!
    Romney is a disgrace to the republican party, he is not the great man his supporters portray him to be. As an AMERICAN I am abashed to have this crook politician running for the oval office. AMERICANS DO NOT LET ROMNEY BRAIN WASH YOU, HIS A CROOK!!

    VOTE FOR JOHN McCAIN 2008

    February 5, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. John Knight

    First a comment to Mitt2008:

    After reading all of those wonderful endorsements for your guy, why am I left wondering why are all of these very same people who have done their very best to steer us into the abyss we now find ourselves in...they're all supporting this little rich brat claiming to be this die-hard conservative when his record is nothing close to that fact. How is it this one-term so-so governor and the guy who ran the Olympics for a time, suddenly is viewed as this grand genius and political leader. Gimme a break will ya?

    I try so hard to keep an open mind, really. But why is it everytime I hear Romney speak, it makes me cringe...why is it I feel like I'm being pitched by one of the slimiest snake and oil salesmen of our time.

    More importantly, why is it when I see video of a Romney speech with a crowd behind him, I just feel like I am watching an updated version of The Manchurian Candidate...although I haven't found Angela Lansbury behind him yet?

    McCain isn't that much better, but anyone that has the right wingnuts of the Republican Party all tied up in knots, certainly has a PLUS going for him. Clearly, that 30% or so of the Republican Party just can't stand to give up control or their power to so many other Republicans more in touch with the real world.

    Fun to watch if you ask me.

    February 5, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Darth Vadik, CA

    What is disgracefull is that a war hero and a straight-talker (back in 2000) has left his principles back in South Carolina when Bush handed him a thumping.

    I have never seen somebody give into so easy as McCain did to Bush. If Bush would have called my wife a junkie, and used my black baby against me, the only part of my hand that bush would touch is my knuckles on his nose, but McCain gave into Bush like a lap dog that he has become. Not even Tony Blair gave into Bush that easy.

    As far as Mitt, he so slimy I wouldn't touch him with a 100 foot pole.

    February 5, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Kevin Scott

    Blaine: being a vet doesn't mean that a person can't be wrong. The point is that Dole deserves more respect than Romney afforded him. I think Romney realizes that now and he's apologized for it.

    February 5, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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