Blumenthal Anointed, Avoids Apology

(Updated: 8:41 p.m.) After he easily won the blessing of the Democratic Party for his U.S. Senate bid, Dick Blumenthal sought to put controversy behind him and rallied a newly united party behind a populist theme.

Blumenthal won his party’s nomination at the state Democratic party convention Friday night. His sole opponent, longshot contender Merrick Alpert, withdrew his name from nomination mid-roll call, after it became apparent that he did not have the votes to land a place on the ballot. The party then endorsed Blumenthal by acclamation.

As Blumenthal prepared to accept his party’s endorsement for Connecticut’s open U.S. Senate seat Friday night, the big question was once again whether he would utter two words: I’m sorry.

He didn’t. 

“I’m not perfect,” he said. “I make mistakes. But you also know that I’m a fighter.”

He then turned to his party and repeated a refrain that “Washington is not listening.” He vowed to “grow the economy for ordinary people,” end bailouts, cut waste and fraud in government, and work under the new health law to ensure health care is “affordable and available to all.”

After basking in the victory spotlight and waving to supporters with his wife, Cynthia (pictured above), he made an uncharacteristic move for a man who reportedly never met a camera he didn’t like. Blumenthal avoided the press after his remarks and ducked into a car.

Click on the play arrow to watch clips of his speech and his exit.

Thomas MacMillan Photo

Friday night’s convention was supposed to be a coronation of the state’s most popular Democrat as he seeks to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd.

Instead it capped a week when some observers wondered whether Blumenthal would survive the campaign, let alone win it, after a controversy over how he represents his Vietnam Era-military service. The New York Times Monday night accused him of misleading the public on multiple occasions about his service, which included a stateside stint in the marine reserves, not combat service overseas. Blumenthal’s statewide support immediately plummeted.

Politicians from both his own party—beginning with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano—and the Republican Party called on Blumenthal to apologize to veterans for what he acknowledged were “misstatements.” Instead, Blumenthal struck a defiant pose in a Tuesday press event at a VFW hall. Afterwards he declined to issue an apology when pressed about it in a conversation with reporters.

Since then Blumenthal has sought to put the controversy behind him. It hasn’t worked. And on Friday the apology question resurfaced—inadvertently thanks to his own party’s national chairman.

Seeking to defend Blumenthal on the TV show “Morning Joe,” Democratic National Chairman Tim Kaine said, “His statements were wrong. He needed to apologize, and he did.”

That prompted another gleeful press response from one of the two Republicans seeking to win the Senate seat, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons. He issued a release noting Kaine’s comment—and noting that in fact Blumenthal has declined to apologize. Simmons then repeated what he has said all week—that “Richard Blumenthal continues to owe those who served in Vietnam and their families an apology.” Simmons has had the most to gain from the Blumenthal controversy since he did serve in Vietnam, for 19 months, and won two Bronze stars, according to his campaign.

Simmons continued to milk the controversy Friday, releasing a video about his own service in the war and emphasizing the soldier issue in conversation with the press as the Republican state convention opened in Hartford.

As he worked his way through the crowd at the convention on Friday evening, Mayor DeStefano was asked if Blumenthal needs to apologize.DeStefano said only, “He said what he said, it’s time to move on.”

Blumenthal apparently agreed.

He first declined to answer questions from a half-dozen reporters. He started walking briskly towards the door. When one reporter noted how rare it was for him to decline the chance to speak to the press, Blumenthal smiled and kept walking. He was asked if he feels he owes people an apology for misleading them over his record on Vietnam.

“I know I’ve said what I had to say for right now.”

Asked for clarification, Blumenthal kept walking, got into a hybrid Ford Escape, and waved goodbye.

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posted by: jschmidt on May 21, 2010  5:51pm

Apparently lying is ok for the CT delegation. Not surprising since it is the same party with such ethics challenged members Murtha, Dodd, Rangel and Franks. Those guys made and stayed committee chairs while under ethics investigation. All Bluemy, a lawyer who lives by words, was lying about his military record. No big deal for the un-Democratic party who will not even let a Blemy opponent Alpert address the convention. The quality of the Dems candidates don;t matter. Only if they can win.


posted by: Joe on May 21, 2010  9:15pm

Hey jschmidt, Off the top of my head:

Larry Craig
Newt Gingrich
Richard Nixon
Mark Souder (and his paramour)
Mark Sanford
Mark Foley
John Ensign

Not to forget, George W. Bush and his henchman, Dick Cheney, who brought us into the 2nd worst economic crisis in the history of the country, as well as an unfunded illegal war

Great bunch!

posted by: Ed on May 21, 2010  9:22pm

I’m so utterly disgusted with politicians from both parties but you know what’s even worse? The people who vote for these ... after they know the person they voted for is/was lying through their teeth, and they cheer them on to boot!

If the great men that founded this country were here today, the would be classified as domestic terrorists then jailed and tortured.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 22, 2010  8:02am

Bring back the Bull Moose Party!!!!

posted by: alexey on May 22, 2010  8:24am

Would someone please explain why Blumenthal will express his “regret” but not “apologize?”  Is there something sinister about an apology?  “I apologize to any veteran or other American who got the impression that I served in the country of Vietnam as the result of several unintentional mis-statements about my service record.  I always have tried to be clear—in both public appearances and private conversations—that I served proudly in the Marine Corps Reserves in the United States during the Vietnam War. I am sorry that on a few occasions, I said that I served “in Vietnam” instead of “during Vietnam.” To anyone who was offended by those remarks: please accept my apology. The service men and women who fought and died deserve our deepest respect and recognition.  The war effort involved the contributions of tens of thousands of other veterans who served in this country and abroad, and they deserve our thanks as well.  I will continue to fight on behalf of all veterans for both the respect and benefits they are due as the result of their sacrifice.”

posted by: Don't throw stones on May 22, 2010  11:30am

Joe - a few more, off the top of my head: Spiro Agnew, Tom Delay, Randy Cunningham, Mayor Giordano (Waterbury) and my favorite John Rowland.
Jschmidt -  you’re living in a glass house.

posted by: Anton on May 22, 2010  5:12pm

The WSJ looks at Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s public record of grandstanding on cases while persecuting someone just to gin up a headline. It’s not a pretty history.

posted by: Sally Hass on May 23, 2010  7:49am

I’m not interest in voting for someone who can’t get his story straight. I always voted for Blumenthal I thought he had character and values. A lie is a lie not misspoke.

No more votes for Richard Blumenthal from me.

posted by: THE TRUTH on May 23, 2010  11:24am

[He] got 5 deferments to stay as far away from Vietnam as he could.  When he couldnt get another he join the reserves knowing they dont get called into action ( back then). Then he repeatedly tried to bathe in the glow of being a real Vietnam vet to further his political career and was caught. Shame on him.  Hes not trustworthy.  We have a lying senator in Dodd already, we dont need another.

posted by: Victim's Revenge on May 23, 2010  4:57pm

There is something we all need to realize about Richard Blumenthal. He’s to modest to boast about his PhD in the Humanitarian Arts, or his congressional metal of honor he was awarded during the Vietnam war for tremendous acts of heroism and bravery under fire, or the fact that he lead his swim team to four NCAA championships. Here’s another little known fact that we should all be aware of, when the Federal Supreme Court is stumped on an issue they will call Richard Blumenthal for advice, and more often than not he will straighten them out. We need Richard Blumenthal to be our Senator for Connecticut

posted by: Walt on May 24, 2010  6:45am

Getting tired of this topic.  He lied, maybe by accident. 

Should apologize.

What bugs me is how this guy,  apparently with possibly 6 months of reserve service became a Marine Sergeant.

Even during WW-ll,  when I was in the Navy,  a typical Marine,  with several years of service,  most likely with extensive combat experience was still a Private or Lance Corporal,  probably the former.

The Marines were very demanding of their guys in performance before they would promote.  (Less so than the Army or Navy as I see it.)

Blumenthal,  seeker and receiver of many deferments,  finally gets forced into a teeny bit of active service,  and is suddenly a Marine Sergeant.

An insult to the real Marines?

Rich guy gets rewarded by his contacts?

That is the part of this story which has been ignored,

posted by: Walt on May 24, 2010  9:47am

In comment above , meant to say Marines were more demanding before promotions,, not less so.