May 18th, 2010
08:13 AM ET
13 years ago

Allegations about Blumenthal rock Senate race

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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."](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

Filed under: 2010 • Connecticut • Popular Posts • Richard Blumenthal
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. joe

    Dude signed up for the Marines. Honorably Discharged. Now he's getting smeared. Should have kept deferring, like Cheney.

    May 18, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. tony w. whitley

    It wasnt in error! He like others seek to ride on the accomplishments and sacrifice of others with no honor. Hes a liar and a thief . Prosecute him with all the other FAKES. Fed up Vet!

    May 18, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  3. GI Joe

    Kick him aside.

    We don't need a deferrment freak (like cheney) OR a liar (like palin) in the D column. It's bad enough the Rs have so many.

    Teach him a lesson now, and NEVER let him influence anyone.

    May 18, 2010 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  4. ED FL

    so what is new Cheney was the deferred in chief. This turkey Blumenthal should remove his name from the election. as a democrat i would rather lose the Senate than have a jerk like this get elected, however he should fit in fine with all the COWARDS IN BOTH PARTIES that have done the same thing. check and see how many POLITICIANS are in the reserves or national guard as a way to avoid action. they all will be at the head of theline to add there time to thier government time to increase their pension.

    May 18, 2010 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  5. Steve

    If he actually clearly stated that he served in Vietnam, that's a serious lie. However, it could well be that people have merely misunderstood what he said when he said that he was in the military during Vietnam. I don't claim to be a Gulf War veteran because I did not go to the war, but I do state that I was active duty Air Force during the Gulf War, which is true and accurate.

    May 18, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. rdepontb

    There are unfounded rumors, rumors based on appearances, gossip based on suspicions. And then there are intentional misdirections and obfuscating the truth. What do we think is the case here? Dolt.

    May 18, 2010 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  7. Tom Rivers

    The people of CT now have a clear choice. If we're serious about purging Washington of old school politics-by-deception here's your chance! If you can't cross the isle and vote Republican, please, at least write in another candidate of higher moral standing than Mr. Blumenthal. This is a prime opportunity to separate the American people from business as usual Washington politics. Come on CT... send a message!

    May 18, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  8. Tom

    Since the man did not actually serve in Vietnam, he continues to lie. When will politicians ever learn that lying about a service record always catches up?

    May 18, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  9. Justin

    Five deferments? What is he doing running for CT's Senate seat? He's qualified to run for Vice President of the USA and follow in the footsteps of that great patriot Dick (Six Deferments) Cheney!

    Glad to see the mud-slinging start early. Move along.............there's nothing to see here.

    May 18, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  10. Dave in MD

    I don't care what party you are. If you apeal to Vietnam service and you never left the USA, then you're mis-representing your service. Period.

    This guy typifies exactly the sort of double-talkers we want to REMOVE from Washington right now, not SEND there.

    May 18, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  11. Kenneth

    Are these Republicans who are "demanding" answers the same ones who defended Pres. Bush and V.P. Cheney's "service" or lack of it during the same period? How "nice".

    May 18, 2010 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  12. will

    It's not past Republicans to smear somebody's military record. They did it to John Kerry, why won't they do it again?

    May 18, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  13. Dan

    How can he be that stupid???

    Looks like the repuclicans will pick up another seat,

    May 18, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  14. Bill Haverly

    Well so what? There is no moral test for democrats before they run for office. How do you think the democrat-in-name-only man now in the White House got there? He never even registered for the draft, traveled on a passport that was not from the US, legally sealed all records of his life, and he voted "present" most of the time in Illinois and in DC, and he still got elected. Why play the moral legitimacy test now, democrats. Lies and deceit at the top of your party should be corrected before you worry about military service of 40 years ago by a true American citizen.

    May 18, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  15. L.O.

    Just another Republican lie.....

    May 18, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  16. Brad

    Oops . . . Mr. Blumenthal must have accidentally grabbed the GOP playbook.

    May 18, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  17. Outraged

    Right. Joining duting VIet Nam, a major conflict, when other's were going AND THEN hhe NEVER WENT. special treatment.
    LIAR! Served in "RESERVES' ..ANOTHER evidence of "POLI-TICIAN"(namy bloodsuckers") lies. American's, are tired and ARE VOTING not only term limits (incumbents OUT) but serving notice, "Our leaders WILL be accountable and NO LONGER will WE WAIT for the results they promise and NEVER HAPPEN.
    I served in USN in Vietnam 1965-1969...been there done the Tshirt.
    His duty stations are in his service record as public record. if he lied..hang him. in the face of those that WENT, wheher they came back or died. CAREER Poli-ticians (many bloodsuckers..) NO MORE!!!
    OUTRAGED and VOTING!!!!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. CT voters still dont get it

    and the liberal state will still vote him in because he has a D next to his name. dishonesty is a trait they admire in their politicians.

    May 18, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  19. Pete

    "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam..."

    Ah, what a difference a preposition makes. "During" would have been so much better to have used.

    May 18, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  20. Judy

    Great! Replacing one lier with another.

    May 18, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  21. S Stump

    Don't worry...CBS will get Dan Rather out of retirement to clear him!

    May 18, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. Army Vietnam Vet 66-68

    Another poser. It seems that for some people the Vietnam War is more popular now than it was in the 60's and 70's. Always great to say that "yeah I served in 'Nam back in "70" when asking for votes. It makes you seem like one of the good ole boys, nowadays...Every time some one says they served and didn't, it takes something away from those who did serve; and remember, some of those who did serve, didn't make it back alive...
    I'm sure that recordings or video of Blumenthal's speeches on the subject exist somewhere...if he said the words "Vietnam Era Veteran" I would be surprised, but even if he did and didn't correct the impressions reported later in the media, he is posing and deserves exposure as a poser.
    As for serving in a Marine Reserve unit during the Vietnam era, I don't see a problem with least he did something. There is nothing wrong with service in any of the Reserve Components or the National Guard. All military jobs are important; active or reserve.
    Thank you CNN for allowing me to express my opinion on this subject that is near and dear to my heart.

    May 18, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. Mark from Louisiana

    Just another crooked lying politician.......dems will vote for him though

    May 18, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. Steve in North Carolina

    A politician lying? Say it isn't so!

    May 18, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. Anonymous word for lied!!!! Unbelievable!

    May 18, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
1 2 3