(CNN) - A New York Times story alleging that Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal lied about serving in Vietnam added fuel to a contentious Connecticut senate race Tuesday.
Blumenthal's campaign criticized the story as an "outrageous distortion," while political opponents demanded answers.
"The New York Times story is an outrageous distortion of Dick Blumenthal's record of service," campaign manager Mindy Myers said. "Unlike many of his peers, Dick Blumenthal voluntarily joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1970 and served for six months in Parris Island, SC and six years in the reserves. He received no special treatment from anyone."
The New York Times story says Blumenthal, who is currently Connecticut's attorney general, never served in Vietnam but said he did in several speeches before veterans groups and military families. The story also claims that it appears that Blumenthal did nothing to correct numerous media profiles that described him as a Vietnam veteran.
Reached by phone Monday night, Blumenthal told a reporter that he had always said he was a "Vietnam-era" veteran, and that his intention was always to be straightforward about his military service, according to an article published on the website of the Greenwich Time, a newspaper in Connecticut.
"I've always said that I've served in the Marine Corps Reserve during the Vietnam era. If I said anything otherwise on very rare occasions, I may have misspoken," he said.
The New York Times story says Blumenthal obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war. In 1970, the New York Times says, he enlisted in the Marine Reserve and landed a coveted spot in a unit in Washington.
His political opponents were quick to speak out Monday.
"Mr. Blumenthal owes the people of Connecticut, and particularly its veterans, a thorough explanation for the very serious questions that have been raised over what appears to be a long history of dishonest statements," National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh said.
The campaign for Republican candidate Linda McMahon sent out an e-mail claiming credit for giving the New York Times a video of a speech in Norwalk, Connecticut, in which Blumenthal allegedly said he served in Vietnam.
Republican candidate Rob Simmons released a statement Monday night saying he was "deeply troubled" by the allegations.
"Too many have sacrificed too much to have their valor stolen in this way. I hope Mr. Blumenthal steps forward and forthrightly addresses the questions that have arisen about this matter," he said.
Blumenthal is running for U.S. Senate to replace fellow Democrat Chris Dodd.
Blumenthal, Connecticut's attorney general for the past two decades, announced his candidacy on January 6, a couple of hours after Dodd, a five-term senator, announced he would not run for re-election this November. Dodd had been considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election in 2010.
A Quinnipiac University survey conducted in March indicated Blumenthal was up by more than two to one margins over all three of his possible Republican opponents.
The Connecticut Democratic Party's nominating convention begins in Hartford, Connecticut, on Friday.
UPDATE: Sen. Robert Menendez says that Blumenthal has been "an incredible advocate for veterans."
Menendez, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was asked by CNN Congressional producer Ted Barrett if he's concerned that Blumenthal misrepresented what he did in Vietnam.
"I will allow the Attorney General to both explain and make his own case. At the end of the day he knows all the facts, he knows all the circumstances and I'll let him develop that record," Menendez responded.
Menendez, who made his comments at a news conference on Capitol Hill, added that "the reality is we have not gotten to a full vetting of the Republican candidate. There is plenty to talk about in that respect. I think a record of standing up for Connecticut citizens, standing up as a consumer advocate, standing up for the veterans of that state, standing up against big companies that have tried to rip off the citizens of Connecticut will make a compelling argument for the Attorney General. And when the other side of the equation is viewed, I think voters will have a clear choice in Attorney General Blumenthal."
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
This story is simple to correct if he did or did not serve, show me your papers, papers please. Yes, we can all see the AZ law has many applications and may be good for all of us to be able to answer any questions in the future. Do you have a job? Yes I do. ok show me your papers please. Are you married? Yes..Ok show me your papers please...Did you serve in the military? Yes...Ok show me your papers please...See *The papers law is good in many ways*...Are you an American? Yes and I was born here..Ok show me your papers please...Umm what kind of paper? No papers? Ok come with me to the station until you can show me your papers...PAPERS PLEASE is the new battle cry now...
Another lying politician hmmm? Check with your local Tea Party and go with the candidate of their choice. It is the only way to take back our country from the Corporate Elite. Dont be fooled. Vote out ALL incumbants in the primaries. Vote for truth and honesty in November.
I always thought of him as " Spitzer Lite". Looks even more true now.
We have enough stupid in Washington.
Don't these candidates know their backgrounds will be checked?
Sorry, Blumenthal. We can't afford you.
This guy is Martha Coakley part deux.
Oh come on. The swiftboating of Dems will never stop. The GOP only cares about politics and money, nothing more.
I don't know the details, but I know Parris Island isn't in Vietnam. It's boot camp.
Another slimy, crooked corrupt liberal. That is almost as much news as the continued CNN obsession with Fox New star Sarah Palin.
Another liar in goverment, that's just what we need.
Time for the Rethugs to start pulling out the ugly rumors and attacking his service to the country. Did the same to John Kerry.
For misspeak read LIE.
Question – Did Rob Simmons serve in the military at ALL? Who cares if Blumenthal was a draft doger – everyone was back then! Who wanted to go to war to be killed? If he DID lie, then fine...but they need to come up with actual taped footage of these speaches rather than hearsay!!
Just like all the other Dems, think they are better than the rest of us and can make our decisions for us.
Yeah, but unlike "W" there are documents proving his service. Ah, I hear the sound of Swift Boats revving up! What about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Both of them were "too busy" to serve in the military. I guess questionable military service is only a question when the candidate is not a Repbulican!
If he didn't go overseas he isn't a "veteran" at all. Why would Blumenthal LIE on video? There is no getting around that. No more lies from typical big-government career politicians who got us into the mess we are in.
Time for a change with Peter Schiff.
A politician lying? Say it ain't so!
I'm curious to hear everyone's reason in his age group that did not serve in vietnam of why/how they got out of it. Most particularly curious if Linda marched in any anti-war rallies back in the day or pro-segregation rallies. Who are these people that we are representing us?
Sounds like he same story that was told about John Kerry never in a river boat firefight in Vietnam. When we have to stoop so LOW to try to discredit someone's service to their country, It doesn't say much to me about that person and/or the party they are being supported by. A great many era vets never served in country. They may not have faced the horrors of war, BUT they trained and were ready if called upon, they faced an anguish and experienced the actual loss of friends and fellow comrades. Put credit where credit is due – At least he served his country honorably. He swore an oath to protect against enemies both foreign and domestic GOD knows we need someone in Washington today to fight against the Domestic enemies posing as politicians – "OPPS did I say that"
Vietnam veteran, Vietnam -era veteran. Po-ta-to, Po-tah-to. He served. What was said as opposed to what was heard. A non-issue. The Repugicans are really unprincipled when they are desperate.
I smell "swift boat" tactics!
All liars are not politicians, but all politicians are liars.
The dull-witted Dodd, and the neo-con, hypocrite Lieberman . . Connecticut's senators are already enough of an eye-sore. It sounds like this Blumenthal guy is the last thing the state needs.
Didn't he also claim to land on the moon in 1972?
All politicians who fall in the age catagory of being draftable should expose why they did not serve. I would like see what the other candidates did during that time i.e. Peace rallies, anti-war, anti/pro segregation.....who are the people that represent us....
How Blumenthal can think he's going to negate a well-documented story by simply saying it's an"outrageous distortion" is beyond me. If he wants to clear the air, he should go through each point in the story and address it; though my suspicion is he'd probably just use the "misspoke" excuse for all of them. You don't misspeak the same things over and over again; that's called lying.