May 24th, 2010
08:38 AM ET
5 years ago

Blumenthal: 'I'm sorry'

'I truly regret offending anyone,' Connecticut Attorney General and Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal said in a statement issued to a newspaper Sunday night.
'I truly regret offending anyone,' Connecticut Attorney General and Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal said in a statement issued to a newspaper Sunday night.

(CNN) - Democratic Senate candidate and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has apologized for misstating his military record during the Vietnam War.

"I have made mistakes and I am sorry. I truly regret offending anyone," Blumenthal said in a statement sent to the Hartford Courant Sunday night. "I will always champion the cause of Connecticut's and our nation's veterans."

Blumenthal's comments come one week after the New York Times reported that he distorted his military service record. The article alleges that Blumenthal lied about serving in Vietnam and says that he never served in that war, even though the candidate has claimed he did in speeches before veterans groups and military families.

Blumenthal acknowledged last Tuesday that he has not always accurately described his military service during the Vietnam War.

"On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service and I regret that and I take full responsibility," Blumenthal said while surrounded by Vietnam veterans at a news conference in West Hartford. "But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country."

Blumenthal served in the Marine Corps Reserves during the Vietnam War, and was stationed stateside. He says he mistakenly said he served "in" Vietnam rather than "during" Vietnam in his previous speeches.

The absence of a strong apology in his remarks last Tuesday fueled criticism from Republicans and even some Democrats.

Last Friday night, at the Connecticut Democratic state party convention, Blumenthal acknowledged that "I have made mistakes," according to media reports, adding that "I regret them. And I have taken responsibility."

In the statement to the Courant, Connecticut's largest daily newspaper, Blumenthal said that "at times when I have sought to honor veterans, I have not been as clear or precise as I should have been about my service in the Marine Corps Reserves."

"I have firmly and clearly expressed regret and taken responsibility for my words," added Blumenthal, who's served as Connecticut attorney general for nearly two decades.

Notwithstanding the controversy, Blumenthal easily won the state Democratic Party's endorsement at the convention. Democratic candidate Merrick Alpert, a businessman, ended his bid for the Senate after trailing badly in the vote count for the party endorsement.

Connecticut Republicans backed Linda McMahon as their Senate nominee, endorsing the former professional wrestling executive at the state GOP convention Friday night. But McMahon, who has spent tens of millions of her own money so far on her Senate bid, will still face a challenge for the Republican nomination in Connecticut's August 10 primary. Former Rep. Rob Simmons, who came in second in the endorsement battle, said he would challenge McMahon in the primary.

Businessman Peter Schiff, another GOP candidate, failed to capture enough votes at the convention to qualify for the primary, but indicated he might launch a petition effort to get his name on the August primary ballot.

Polls conducted prior to the past week's controversy indicated that Blumenthal was ahead by a more than two-to-one margin in hypothetical general election matchups against all three GOP candidates.

The race is to succeed Sen. Chris Dodd. The five-term Democratic senator announced in January that he would not run for re-election this year. Dodd had been considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in this November's midterms.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: 2010 • Connecticut • Popular Posts • Richard Blumenthal
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Blumenthal has always been a champion of the people as attorney general in CT. I would be glad to have him as a senator for our state! If this is all the republicans can come up with to tarnish his record, then i'm not worried!

    May 24, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  2. Liar lian pants on fire

    If the Atty General want to be taken serioulsy, let's see his entire service record - was he drafter or enlisted>? Where did he serve? what did he do? Was he honored in any way? If he wants to have us honor his service to our contry, tell us what it was.

    May 24, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. TangledThorns

    Blumenthal is a liar and should just drop out of the race!

    May 24, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. J.E.Lindquist

    Does "misspoke" mean "lied"?

    May 24, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. Patrick

    The man is slime. Why don't the Dems pick a new nominee if they can't cross the aisle to vote for a Rep? No one with a good conscience is going to vote for him in November.

    May 24, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. Tomindy

    A liar at best; an unrepentant one at worst. His lie does damage to men who put their lives at risk while he spent his military time stateside in luxury. I hope he does NOT get elected.

    May 24, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The point is that he did serve during Vietnam in some way. His record as AG should be the focus of his campaign. If people can't get over this, then they are so focused against him nothing will change their view point.

    May 24, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Yep, the words "in" and "during" are always confused with each other. Especially by politicians. Kinda like "that depends on what the defintion of is is".

    May 24, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. LouAz

    Misspoke ? Why have we allowed anyone running for public office to tell a lie and then when caught in that lie, offer this newspeak word ?
    No wonder our children are confused. Make him APOLIGIZE FOR TELLING A LIE. Make him say those words.

    May 24, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  10. Midwest

    I am a Democrat and this guy has to go. This is not a "which side of the aisle you're on" issue but rather one of integrity, believability and questionable judgment.

    To claim military service that involves being in a war zone when you were, in fact, getting multiple deferments and then a choice assignment thousands of miles from the conflict is political death sentence.

    Get someone else to run.

    May 24, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Patrick Lewis

    I'll be really glad when politics gets beyond the Vietnam war. I suppose it will be overtaken by the Gulf war, though.

    May 24, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. Gary

    To say "I misspoke," when he lied, and to regret that other people got offended, is a great use of weasel words, but that's hardly the same as taking responsibility.

    May 24, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  13. Thomas

    "I take full responsibility"

    So what does this really mean from a political official?

    Are you going to resign?

    Or does it simply mean that we should convienently forget it and allow you to continue your career?

    What does it really mean when a politician says "I take full responsibility"?

    Based on history, I fear it does not mean a whole lot.

    May 24, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. Incredulous

    Modern day morality. There is no right and wrong, you are only wrong when caught and convicted or when it will cost you something not to recognize that you are wrong.

    May 24, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. Too True For You

    That's the difference between a democrat and a conservative. No matter what stupid thing they say, a conservative would just question your patriotism for bringing it up. Maybe they would fake cry a little bit and tell you how much they love this country and wished they could have had the honor of serving in the military.

    Then they would accuse you of being a mooslim terrorist looking to establish American death panels and force our children into socialist re-edcation camps because you dare besmirch the honor of military service, and then go on Fox and do a bunch of softballl interviews to not answer the question. After that they would hold a few fact free rallies to rile up the republican voting block of anti-intellectual one-liner fans with emotional appeals devoid of factual basis.

    Democrats are consistently hamperd by the fact that their constituents don't mistake wallowing in jingoistic ignorance as a substitute for responsible political engagement.

    May 24, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  16. Mike

    It would not surprise me if CT elected a liar like blumenthal, after all this country elected obama.

    May 24, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Dean Bower

    I spent my last two years in the Navy (1967-69) attached to a Fleet Tactical Support Squadron that flew flight operations out of the Philippines to the ships on Yankee Station off the coast of Viet-Nam. Never once did I consider myself a Viet-Nam Veteran. If you are one, you know. This is just another example of the rampant hypocracy so prevelent in todays politics. Shame on the various military organizations supporting this guy. You are an embarassment. Remember, "as ye sow, so shall ye reap."

    May 24, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  18. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    IF he had represented himself as an active military man, it would have been a crime...
    Is it a crime to misrepresent your SERVICE?
    I'm a Democrat, and I believe in forgiveness, but with contrition comes consequences. "I'm sorry" isn't enough, what he did, in a PATTERN of deception requires him to step aside and let some more reputable (I know, oxymoron, reputable politician) person try and win the seat. If he means the words "I will always champion the cause of Connecticut's and our nation's veterans." he should do the TRULY Honorable thing and step aside.

    May 24, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  19. SCOTO

    They are not "misstatements" to me. They are lies.

    May 24, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. clr

    No – sorry – too little – too late. You STOLE our soldier's honor and valor for yourself Mr. Blumenthal, and that is not acceptable. No sir.

    My Marine son was severely wounded in Afghanistan this year. Last week – we buried his best friend who was killed there, and another member of his unit who was killed a few days later. The week before, we buried his Captain, and visited a close friend in Bethesda Naval Hospital who lost his legs to an IED. I care for a Vietnam vet father who is disabled. We buried my great Uncle from his illness suffered in WWII. This is just the tip of the iceberg of HONOR and VALOR you stole from the people closely related to my family alone.

    If you want to gain any of this back – then get off your rear, put on a flak jacket, and join our men it the trenches in Afghanistan for the next year and EARN the honor and valor you stole.

    May 24, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  21. fred

    Wow, he can't even make an honest apology without trying to make himself sound good. Please don't vote for this guy, CT

    May 24, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. jeff jackson, alabama

    And you know what ?
    He will probably be re-elected.

    May 24, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  23. wwf

    Plain and simple. He lied! I just love how politicians always misspeak.

    May 24, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    We need to stop allowing those who would be untruthful, in such a glaring way, to be elected to office.

    If we can't find a candidate worthy of serving......then leave the office vacant.

    May 24, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This horse has been beat to death.
    Why jeopardize your chances at election by lying about your service record? Look at "Crash & Burn" McCain, and "5xs No" Cheney. They didn't lie -and should've- and still got elected.
    So, if you ie about something as inconsequential as your inconsequential military record, what else, of MAJOR importance, will you MISSPEAK about?

    I'm not getting a good vibe from this guy.

    May 24, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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