Blumenthal Defiant On “A Few Misplaced Words”
by Melissa Bailey, Christine Stuart & Paul Bass | May 18, 2010 4:27 pm
(Updated) He didn’t apologize. But as he scrambled to resuscitate his battered U.S. Senate campaign Tuesday, Democrat Richard Blumenthal said he “regrets” “misspeaking.”
Then he swung back.
“I will not,” he declared, “allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”
Blumenthal made the remarks at a 2 p.m. press event at a West Hartford VFW Hall, as he scrambled to contain the damage from a New York Times expose charging that he has falsely claimed to have served in the military in Vietnam, rather than at home in the marine reserves.
Dozens of veterans, most of them rounded up through American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) networks, stood by Blumenthal’s side inside Hannon-Hatch VFW Post 9929—even if not all plan to vote for him in November. (Pictured above with Blumenthal: Peter Galgano of the Marine Corps League and Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial Inc. Chairwoman Jean Risley.)
They said they were rallying behind a fellow vet being beat up back at home.
Despite the show of support in West Hartford, the Times expose has created a crisis for Blumenthal’s campaign for Connecticut’s open U.S. Senate seat.
One of the state’s leading Democrats, New Haven Mayor (and 2006 gubernatorial candidate) John DeStefano, earlier Tuesday urged Blumenthal to use the occasion to make a full, quick, complete apology instead of fighting back against the story. “Say you’re sorry. Mean it. And move on,” DeStefano advised.
One of the two leading Republican candidates for the seat, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons (pictured), held his own press conference earlier Tuesday afternoon, on the steps of the state Capitol, and made a similar suggestion. Simmons told reporters Blumenthal should apologize for a 2008 statement captured on video—that he “served” in Vietnam, an untrue statement. “Too many have sacrificed too much to have their valor stolen in this way,” he said. Simmons did serve in Vietnam, for 19 months, and won two Bronze Stars. So he stands to gain the most from the Blumenthal controversy.
Later, surrounded by veterans in West Hartford, Blumenthal spoke briefly to the crowd.
Blumenthal himself began by reminding people that he did serve in the United States Marine Corps Reserves during the Vietnam War 40 years ago. He was stationed here in the U.S. He didn’t pull strings to get in, he said. “I looked them up in the phone book.” He said he’s “proud” of his service. And he spoke of attending dozens of military and veterans events a year in Connecticut as attorney general.
Then came the key moment—how he was going to address the Times expose and the subsequent attacks from his political rivals.
He didn’t apologize.
“On a few occasions I have misspoken of my service. I regret that and I take full responsibility,” Blumenthal said.
“But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.
“I served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. And I’m proud of it.”
End of statement.
Click the play arrow to see highlights of the press event.
After his brief speech, Blumenthal got a second, and third, chance to apologize when he spoke with reporters. Connecticut Post reporter Ken Dixon asked the candidate if he feels he owes people an apology.
“I regret those words,” Blumenthal responded.
Dixon pressed, asking Blumenthal if he was in fact apologizing.
At that point assembled vets shouted back, “No! No! No! They’re badgering you.” And Blumenthal repeated his “regret” answer.
The vets at the VFW hall said they were coming to the aid of a fellow vet.
One of them, Rusty Meek of Manchester, is a diehard Republican. He said he plans to vote for Rob Simmons.
A former commander of the statewide VFW, Meek (pictured with John Schmidt, commander of the VFW post in West Hartford where the event took place) said he came to Tuesday’s event “66 percent sure” that Blumenthal was being “railroaded.” He left the event “90 percent sure” that was true.
Elliott Storm is a Blumenthal supporter. The campaign called him and asked him to show up; he called up his friends in the “Vet Pack” to join him, friends who, like him, travel around the country talking about ex-soldiers who contend with post traumatic stress syndrome.
Storm, who lives in Milford, wrote a book on the subject, called These Scars Are Sacred.
“If a man wore a uniform during those turbulent times, they were rejected and called ‘babykiller,’” Storm said at Tuesday’s event “People are still attacking veterans who served in Vietnam.” The Times story about Blumenthal’s service is a yet another example of that, he claimed.
Democrats Have His Back
Loyal Democratic politicians present Tuesday like former state Comptroller Bill Curry claimed the New York Times story may have a short term impact, but won’t damage the campaign.
“Dick’s overall reputation for integrity is about as good as it gets,” Curry said. “If there was a resume in American politics that didn’t need burnishing it would be Dick’s.“
Curry showed up late for the event and was critical of the New York Times story.
“The, ‘Did you serve in Vietnam” story—I thought we’d had a truce,” said Curry. “Wasn’t there a meeting during the Bush discussions, in fact, and didn’t we all decide we’re not doing this story anymore?”
State Sens. Jonathan Harris of West Hartford and Ed Meyer of Guilford agreed that the story is a temporary bump in the road.
“We’re human beings,” Meyer said. “I think he over-identified with the veterans and got caught up in the moment.”
“I trust him 100 percent,” Harris said.
Blumenthal’s longshot challenger for the Democratic Senate nomination, Merrick Alpert, wasn’t as forgiving.
“He’s not sorry he did it. He’s sorry he got caught doing it,” Alpert said at the back of the VFW Hall.
When Blumenthal debated Alpert back in March he was clear about not having served overseas. But that wasn’t good enough for Alpert, who also served.
“Telling people that you tell the truth 90 percent of the time is not particularly helpful,” Alpert said.
Meanwhile, Simmons and the frontrunning Republican candidate for the Senate seat, Linda McMahon, managed to turn this development—like all others on the campaign trail—into fodder for their own intramural spat.
Monday night, after the story broke, the McMahon campaign began to take credit for supplying the New York Times with the materials for the hit on Blumenthal. The McMahon campaign even distributed to reporters a post by blogger Kevin Rennie congratulating the campaign on getting the story into the Times.
By Tuesday, McMahon scrubbed references to that story line from its website. And both state Democrats and Republican Simmons attacked her —the Democrats, for alleged mud-slinging, Simmons, well, for being embarrassed and switching course, apparently.
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He seemed to have handled himself well.
Obviously, he isn’t quitting the race.
I don’t know how I feel about this just yet.
My initial reaction was: His campaign is sunk and he will have to quit. But I’m not so sure right now.
I certainly know that my feeling will swing back and forth for the interim.
he didn’t apologize.why should he.he’s a politician.they don’t lie,they misspeak,get misquoted,or taken out of context.mr blumenthal a lie is a lie.check your ego and man up.just apologize!!!
He still got three deferments and he did his time in the Marine Corps Reserves, no front line,No hamberg hill.He should remeber the Marine Corps motto Semper fidelis. He should get out of the race.
I like him but I’m beyond disappointed in him, now more than ever. He didn’t misspeak - he lied and/or intentionally mislead us and the media about his background. His normally precise, well chosen words escaped him somehow repeatedly over a period of years? No.
I would have respected him for admitting a mistake, apologizing and then moving on. Instead, we got he political whitewashed version and no apology. Sorry. Not good enough. And just for the record, who cares who leaked it? It’s important for it to come out.
posted by: Henry Berry on May 18, 2010 4:40pm
Blumenthal will be lucky if this is the worst charges against him coming his way in this campaign. I thought he handled the issue pretty well in the news conference, considering the tightly-controlled presentation and narrow, anticipated questions of the forum. His only vulnerability, it seemed to me, was his claim that he got into the Marine Reserve by using the phone book. If people start turning up how getting into the privileged reserve unit actually happened, Blumenthal will be vulnerable to a whole other area of negative press not so easily controlled involving insider connections and other offensive claims. Remember how much trouble Bush had with his serving in the Texas reserve unit. Yet even this much greater trouble did not knock him off his road to the White House.
Blumenthal is most vulnerable to charges of negligence regarding his primary responsibilities as attorney general which would give him an image along the lines of the Catholic hierarchy with respect to the sex scandal and the fraudulent, damaging practices of the banksters/Wall Streeters. The public despises this sort of highhandedness and damage to the social fabric.
A few thoughts on his lying:
Though he said that he isn’t responsible for verifying the accuracy of the many articles written about him, does anyone doubt that he would have demanded a retraction in any of them if something was unfavorable? He read each and every one and let people believe the lies he spread.
Someone should have asked him if he is now or was ever a member of the VFW. You must serve overseas to be a member and if he has/had applied for membership or been a member then it takes the matter far beyond misspeaking and borders on fraud.
Last, anyone have a picture of him in his Harvard speedo? I think he was captain of the swim team the same year he won a few Olympic gold medals.
Simmons is definitely my choice,but I have seen Blumenthal in the past, before this exposure,, say he was never in Vietnam.
Clinton, a Vietnam - era draft dodger got away with it and was elected , so I guess Blumenthal who, unlike Clinton, was at the command of the Marines and could have been sent there, might get a pass on this one.
He’s running for Senate. I don’t care where he served or, frankly, if he didn’t. Obviously, given two terms of the Cheney administration, neither does the electorate. The people who were going to vote for him probably still will, and the people who were going to vote for the completely clueless McMahon still will. Simmons seems like an honorable guy, but I cannot believe he’ll get past the wrestling queen’s advertising juggernaut.
posted by: stone sink on May 18, 2010 9:16pm
The campaign called him and asked him to show up; he called up his friends in the “Vet Pack” to join him, friends who, like him, travel around the country talking about ex-soldiers who contend with post traumatic stress syndrome.
Political opportunism at it’s worse by Simmons, and hungry, over eager reporting. How many times has he said that? Once? I’ve seen him put into writing that he did not serve in the war on active duty. I know he’s said that over & over. Yet the Times & local news seize on one statement, and then try to revise history by saying he “Didn’t apologize”. I don’t understand why he needs to apologize. Even people who won’t vote for him are standing up for him.
He said, “it’s a mistake” “I regret it” “I take responsibility”. What else do you want him to say? Honestly, if someone wronged me and said, “I regret having done that. It was a horrible mistake” I would say, “Thank you” and accept it and move on.
I think this is very predatory journalism.
And Merrick—yuck. That’s even worse political opportunism than Simmons.
I think the Times article said he said “served in vietnam” only once, and other times said, “I served in the marine corps reserve during Vietnam”.
For almost 20 years he has been a highly effective, honest AG, serving our state with incredible integrity. People honestly want the Wrestling lady, or the Republican flip-flopper who talked about global warming & it’s dangers and now talks Tea Party rhetoric? Simmons is man who has (and will) say anything to win. Alpert is a fighter who says incredibly mean things about his opponents in all of his races & entered this race saying, look, Dodd can’t win so vote for me.
People honestly think that the voters of CT will vote for a woman who evades taxes in her CT business by claiming it’s in another state, or a man who flip-flops on positions on a daily basis? Or a neophyte politican who is incredibly opportunistic and transparent about using any rationale possible to vote for him? I doubt that the voters of CT will abandon someone who has worked so hard in our state for TWENTY SEVEN YEARS.
Dick Blumental for Senate!
Streever’s thinking undermines the need for accountability that we need from our elected leaders.
A lie requires an apology because a lie breaks the trust required between the voters and their elected officials.
Do not attack the press for doing its job.
How do you explain false claims to have been the captain of the Harvard swim team?
No one deserves a pass because they have performed admirably in other areas. Can we have one consistent standard and stick to it?
I suggest you wait for the next outbreak of truth-telling and try to explain what that one also deserves a pass.
And I for one think that Blumenthal’s surrounding himself with loyal but unquestioning veterans was shameless exploitation.
This was no profile in courage.
The guy who holds everyone else to such high standards “misspoke”? The “brilliant” lawyer “misspoke”?
The guy who sought FIVE deferments to avoid going to Vietnam claims that he served in Vietnam?
you are like the rest got caught with your hand in the cookie jar. How are we gonna trust Blumenthal ,maybe your not running for office for the people like you say, hey don’t be upset at me for saying maybe your not in it for the people,you lied,and your track record now is questionable.
Misspeaking would be stating something like I served in Viet Nam for five years, when you actually spent 4 years there.
He outright lied and he was stupid and arrogant enough to think he could get away with it. Priceless…..the man who would sue his own mother if she “misspoke” as he did!
Three important points:
1. The article states Blumenthal was “stationed in the US” - that’s wrong. Blumenthal was never “stationed” anywhere, since he was never on active duty, except for six months of boot camp and advanced training, and for summer camps. Blumenthal is not even considered a “Veteran” for purposes of a civil service Veteran’s preference. He was a Weekend Warrior. Nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is Blumenthal lied.
2. Elliot Storm, who backs Blumenthal, appears to exaggerate his own service: http://pownetwork.org/phonies/phonies293.htm
3. In addition to misrepresenting his military service, Blumenthal apparently also allowed profiles to be published without correction which claimed he’d been captain of the Harvard swim team - a team he was not a member of.
I just want to thank Atty Gen Blumenthal for his decades of public service.
And that the McMahon campaign is taking credit for this “story” is disgusting, if one can get disgusted by the low-road queen of the WWE!
Despite his statement of “regret”—which didn’t really rise to the level of “apology”—this incident matters because our public officials continue to engage in this game of equivocating, prevaricating, insinuating and otherwise “saying without saying.” Remember Rove, Cheney and Bush patiently and deliberately building in the minds of the public the impression that Saddam Hussein and 9/11 were somehow connected, all without directly stating he was responsible?
I don’t agree that this is predatory journalism, but it might be “lowest-common-denominator” journalism. It’s an easy story: Candidate Lies! It makes for good sound bites and it’s easy enough for Tea Partiers to understand while the bigger, more complicated issues go largely unexamined. Have the Register, Post and Courant explained how this misinformation made it into their published biographies of Blumenthal?
Having said that, no one is all one thing and personally, I’m not a single-issue voter. Streever’s right: look at the alternatives. Linda McMahon is a joke. Simmons is at least a serious candidate with a record to examine. I will likely stick with Blumenthal.
Blumenthal should he held to the same standards he forced on everyone else:
The Blumenthal Rules
Why should anyone give Richard Blumenthal a break?
That is to say, Blumenthal doesn’t deserve a break for being a liar. The problem is that being a liar makes him qualified for Chris Dodd’s shoes.
I, also, would like to thank Blumy for his service and wish him well in retirement. His allowing others to believe that he served overseas is a slight to anyone who has, especially those who have taken enemy fire. This will not go away and the election just became a lot closer.
McMahon and Simmons are very similar in their performances before the electorate, with both not having any principles, changing their positions to be currently popular, and the only candidate that has any merit from either side is Schiff. He says whats unpopular but true and without a sound economic system, the rest will just fall apart. Kind of like New Haven on a federal level.
The Dick Blumenthal is nothing but a weasel………Like most career politicians …….5 deferments are you kidding me………He worked for Daniel Patrick Moynihan a powerful politician at the time………. I’m sure he had some help in getting the deferments………..This guy is a calculating person who will do and say anything to get what he wants
Who are these “veterans” standing with Blumenthal? I haven’t spoke with a single vet who wasn’t furious over his lies and demanding not only he drop out of the race, but resign as AG! Who are these “supporters”? Anyone who accepts he “misspoke” is delusional given his academic resume, his meticulous nature, and the disastrous comments of his longtime friend Chris Shays, who yesterday detailed a long progression of Blumenthal’s war comments from the truth to more and more elaborate fictions regarding Vietnam service.
William Kurtz on May 19, 2010 9:10am
Having said that, no one is all one thing and personally, I’m not a single-issue voter. Streever’s right: look at the alternatives. Linda McMahon is a joke. Simmons is at least a serious candidate with a record to examine. I will likely stick with Blumenthal
We have third party alternatives that are runing.WE must get away from this crooked two party system. Both of them lie to the people.
Mr. Blumenthal’s response to the story of his non-appearance in Viet Nam was exactly what one expects from the professional politician, an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the voter
It’s not the lying that’s the problem. All pols lie and you should take it for granted. Sometimes, it’s necessary to statecraft.
But he arranged FIVE deferments and then fulfilled his duty in the reserves. Despite this, he has consistently asked for the political support of those who served with honor on the battlefield, those who lost family and friends serving on the battlefield, those who were maimed serving on the battlefield. Why vets are now giving that support to him, vocally and in public, I can not understand.
This man should not represent Connecticut in the US Senate if he was not willing to represent the nation on the battlefield, as those he would represent.
Streever he is a very effective AG on several levels, but I stop at statements that seem to suggest he is perfect. AS US Attorney he was accused by people in his own office of killing a fruitful corruption investigation and it is still not clear whether that decision had merit.
Blumenthal felt the need to embellish his service because there is a false standard that says you can’t be pro-military or support military action if you did not serve in the military. Obama does not have military experience, Clinton didn’t have any and Bush had little in the National Guard. Military service should not be an issue to be elected to public office.
That being said I wouldn’t vote for Blumenthal based on other issues.
“I don’t agree that this is predatory journalism, but it might be “lowest-common-denominator” journalism.”
Agreed! I “mispoke” :).
I just can’t believe this is such a big story when his two republican opponents are tax-evading business owners, owning companies registered in other states because they don’t want to pay CT taxes. If you are unwilling to support the state financially after succeeding here, I don’t know how you expect people to take you seriously as a candidate to represent this state.
posted by: Post-boomer on May 19, 2010 10:50am
Enough Viet Nam! It began in 1954 and ended in 1975. We post-boomers have more pressing concerns.
It’s not Vietnam.
It’s LYING about it. It’s LYING about serving there after having sought five deferments not to go. It’s lying about it after being really tough on eneryone else who lies.
Blumenthal is just Dodd-lite.
We need CHANGE. Vote for Schiff if you like but we cannot stay in the current morass.
Nice one, Streever. Statement of “regret” accepted.
AC, I was nodding along with you in your first sentence but I don’t think the mere fact of military service should qualify or disqualify anyone from public office. That’s a dangerous road to go down.
Paul, Three-fifths does have a point. There are third-party candidates out there. The mainstream commercial media never gives them any attention but perhaps the NHI could provide some coverage of the alternatives? Apologies if I have missed something previously published.
If you look at the first picture (older, balding gentleman with glasses on)and look at the man standing behind Blumenthal, this man is a phony soldier. His name is William Trumpower (aka Eliot Storm). Therefore, Blumenthal will not apologize and he hires actors to play soldiers> Is this what we want from our government officials - lies and arrogance?
These may have been “misplaced words”, but if they were uttered while under oath, would they not constitute a felony (or something close to it) ?
Get him the heck out of Connecticut. This guy will fit right in down in DC.
Storm, aka Trumpower, has some severe issues that have been vetted in the past. Embellished and absolutely fake claims.
Read the blogosphere by typing in Elliott Storm.
Another Democrat Liberal Exposed as a fraud! Join the Tea Party! Small government, true leadership, lower taxes!!!!!
Did not know Blumenthal was never even on active duty. Withdraw my forgiving comment,
You might want to look closer at the vet Elliot Storm. There are claims that while he was Vietnam, he now likes to pretend he was a officer and festoons himself with medals he did not earn.
No Blumen Way! He’s a proven liar and there are already enough of those in the Senate. I will not vote for that kind of representation. Vote out all incumbents and their wanna be friends. I sure hope the Dems keep supporting him because it shows what kind of people they really are.
You know, looking back old George W Bush’s service is looking a lot better, he learned how to fly a jet and did not crash it into the Texas desert.
Interesting op/ed in today’s WSJ