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. Beto

    McCain is a genuine war hero who even today walks stooped because of his service injuries; Dole is also a genuine war hero who lost an arm in his country's service. Romny and his five sons have never served a day in uniform. Any questions?

    February 5, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. Apollo

    What Mitt said is true.

    in 1996, the GOP nominated a crippled war hero who had unsuccessfully run for President before. He was the senate majority leader and had been a senator forever. Bob is a great guy. I voted for him. I donated to his campaign.

    but

    the media played it out like this:

    Old crippled guy (SNL) versus young, hip guy (Bill clinton–criminal–they never mentioned that).

    Bob Dole looked good for an old guy on TV. McCain does not .

    In his own words, he looks like Frankenstein.

    So, in 2008:

    Obama v. McCain

    Young v Old
    Good looking v. ugly
    happy v. crotchety
    optimistic v. pessimistic
    strong family v. left his wife and kids for his mistress half his age
    Democrat v. GOP? (he did negotiate to leave the party and thought about running for Vice President with John Kerry in 2004)

    Fresh face (in DC for 2 years) v. establishment DC–in a change election, you can not be the thing that needs to be changed–McCain is a fixture in the Senate.

    Mitt Romney-optimistic, youthful, successful on his own, takes failures and turns them into successes, understands the economy.

    Mitt is presidential, not petty or crotchety like McCain

    Fix it Mitt!

    February 5, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. J obx

    McCain is more despereate then Hillary,he will use anything he can get .Remember a Vote for Huckbee is a vote for McCain. McCain is the ULTIMATE Washington insider.He is calling in every political favor he has in the Senate.Even Dole whom I respect is paying his debt to McCain on super tuesday .

    February 5, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. just joe

    Hey TRENT, you left Coulter and Limbaugh off your ENDORESEMENTS list...how come? To tell you the truth, guy, most people in this day age don't even know what a conservative is................except for the two noted above. Bellyachers...and loud, too.............................................

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

    Des anyone even care that if "Juan" McCain gets elected that most likely he'll get his way toward his amnesty bill? Those of you who don't live n border states could care less but for those of us who do, we've seen our small towns completly change from mom and pop stores to Taquerias and Carne shops on almst every corner. When I go to the mall I'd like t hear a little more english if you don't mind,after all I am in America right? Mitt Romney is th one who cares about fairness. He is the one I know who will finally do something on illegal immgration and someone who has experience on this economy. McCain is a war hero, yea so what, how will that help our economy?

    February 5, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Larry, Hazleton, Pa

    If this is what is needed to be "conservative without consious" then I am proud as hell to be a moderate democrat. Anybody that listens to that idiot Limbaugh and that other moron on Fox Noise is more than likely brain dead already. So vote for Mr McCain and send Romney and the others back to where they came from.

    February 5, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Jo, ATL GA

    If the Conservatives where the base of the party why is he not winning? Rush you time as past. you can't tell people what to do.

    Why not run for Office Rush? Since you have the base in your pocket.

    RUSH for President.

    February 5, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. Chris Reineck

    Romney's mouth runs 60 mph. while he thinks at 20 mph. Kind of like the prez we have now.

    February 5, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. Cable King Pittsburgh PA

    As an American (and veteran) I thank all of my brothers/sisters for their service.

    However, just because someone is a veteran ( or even a hero) doesn't mean squat when it comes to running for elected office. Candidates like John McCain ( or Bob Dole) shouldn't be given preference points for military service in the contest to live in the White House.

    Being a good soldier is one thing, but it doesn't qualify you, in itself, to be President.

    February 5, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. Luis says:

    Yes, Senator Dole is a WWII hero, he served his country with honor, served the State of Kansas very well, has a very charming spouse, Senator Elizabeth Dole, but give me a break, is he above from being criticized. When did it become off limit to disagree with a vet. McCain the Liar is just trying to create the illusion that Gov. Romney is unpatriotic, unsophisticated, and discourteous, all the traits that McCain is noted for. Yes, a vote for the Liar is a vote to undermine the Republican Party, don’t waste your vote for the weasel McCain. Vote Mitt Romney and be able to sleep tonight with a clear conscience and peace of mind.

    February 5, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. Jacque Bauer

    John (aka Mr. Straight Talk), the Truth hurts. Now stop your pathetic whining, it's unbecoming of a presidential candidate, no matter how vapid you are.

    February 5, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Dave

    sorry, but if Dole is backing McCain then he is off his rocker. and is out of touch with the reality of McCain.

    February 5, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Richard

    2 thoughts/questions:

    1) does Obama have the connections and/or political capital in DC to effect the change he talks about?
    2) will any of the candidates and congressmen who are opposed to government participation in any way in health care be willing to refuse the health care program that they do or would have, if elected? And then accept the same coverage that someone working at a mid level position at a medium sized private company would get for coverage? Would be interesting to see how many would volunteer!

    February 5, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Ann

    Mitt Romney is a real man! I know men who went through way more than Mcain and Dole did and you don't hear them flashing it all over the TV. Why don't we hear anything about Mcain leaving his invalid wife for a Filty rich women who is old enough to be his daughter. Who would you trust to run the country!

    February 5, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. A.K.

    Old Juan McAmnesty is using the same tactics on Romney that the Bushes used on him.

    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.

    The shame is with old Juan McAmnesty.

    February 5, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Dan

    Today is Doomsday and the end of Conservatives as a viable political force. The Christian Right is going down in flames. McCain raises triumphant with his foot on their necks. McCain is sort of like Constantine, this is a turning point of history.

    February 5, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. ks

    It's just the media trying to stir up trouble again. They thrive on controversy.
    I just heard on t.v. the McCain campaign are making phone calls in CA trashing Romney.
    WV took a 2nd vote and choose Huck. Romney won the first one and McCain in last. good grief. I still swear Huck is there to screw up Romney. and theres's no way McCain is going to make him v.p. I don't like this delegate business.
    Go Romney!!!

    February 5, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. CD

    Mitt Romney was for abortion before he was against, for gay rights before he was against it, for gun control before he was against, for universal health care before he was against it. Mitt, who is the REAL conservative. The correct answer is, not you or McCain. Who do you think you're fooling...honestly? Go back to Boston and go sailing with uncle Ted.

    February 5, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. Butch

    Romney seems to be a bit of a loose cannon....speaking without thinking. Not what we need in a president.

    February 5, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. Right on Day1

    Wow, and the mediator yanks half of my remarks. This is a nasty discussion.

    I am tired of McCain telling everyone that they have to apologize to some one.

    It's a cheap tactic to avoid a substantive debate.

    I bet the press will report a surge by Romney because they want the Dems to win.

    Hillary or Obama would eat Romney for lunch.

    February 5, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  21. Jdd-ATL

    McCain and media are good at stirring up things right during the election against Romney. A desperate hot head Mccain.....had to trist it enough to make Romney look bad since it really wasn't an endorsement from Dole. Understandably the media has never liked Romney ….even thou he's a new face with tremendous background that could turn our country around and who is generating most of his own campaign money. What does that tell you? At least he won't have to promise all the typical paybacks to his contributors once in office. Why don't you inform the Americans all about Romney's good background (public service record, educational experience and both government and business experience and inform us about the real McCain as to furher investigate his questionable actions in both governmental and personal. Also, I may add to advise us that Romney probably has more of a stable personal home life. Unfortunately most people, media included do not like a wealthy individual running as a presidential candidate even with great credentials. You will do all possible to make the other candidates look good against Romney. A president must be highly respected for their experience and leadership to be globally regognized.We must have the next president to have true leadership ability in varous areas of their life.

    February 5, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Kathy

    So a drug addict now is the voice for the GOP!!!???? Glad I am not one, would hate to listen to a guy addicted to drugs, always cheating on his wife, and is a draft dodger! Go reTHUGlicans!!! Self destruct.

    February 5, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. skyhawk

    If you don't like McCain that's okay, but saying that conservatives "need to rally around Romney" is ridiculous! If anyone–conservatives should be rallying around Huckabee.

    If you can't see Romney for the opportunist that he is then shame on you–he would get crushed in a general election.

    February 5, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  24. Abbey

    I'm a registered Republican but if Mitt Romney gets the nomination, I'll vote Democrat regardless who the candidate turns out to be. I find it funny that people even listen to Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. Those are what normal people call right wing extremist. They are crazy – really, really crazy. What is wrong with being able to compromise? It involves a certain level of maturity and tolerance that I guess some people just can't muster up. I think most of America is ready for someone to reunite the country, not continue this downward spiral we are in.

    February 5, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. elizabeth

    i'm so sick of mccain waiving the war hero flag! fighting for our country is beyond extremely respectable but does not give him the right to do and say whatever he pleases. mccain is not a republican but rather a rhino wanting to give amnesty to millions to illegals! please get out and vote for romney!! we do not want juan mccain on our ticket come november!

    February 5, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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