The New York Times reported last night that Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s attorney general and the Democratic frontrunner in the Senate race there, has made misleading remarks about serving in the Vietnam War.
Blumenthal never fought in Vietnam. He received five deferments before joining the Marine Reserve.
But in speeches to veterans’ groups, he’s sometimes given a different impression.“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” he said in Norwalk, Conn., in March 2008. He’s also spoken repeatedly about the way soldiers returning from Vietnam were treated, using the pronoun “we.”
“When we returned, we saw nothing like this,” he said in Bridgeport in 2003. “Let us do better by this generation of men and women.”
Other times, however, he’s been more clear.
“Although I did not serve in Vietnam, I have seen firsthand the effects of military action, and no one wants it to be the first resort,” he said in a debate this March.
Asked about his record by the Times, Blumenthal said, “My intention has always been to be completely clear and accurate and straightforward, out of respect to the veterans who served in Vietnam.”
In a statement released after the story was published, a Blumenthal campaign spokesman called the story “an outrageous distortion of Dick Blumenthal’s record of service.”
“He received no special treatment from anyone. Dick has a long record of standing up for veterans. Tomorrow, veterans will be standing up with Dick,” she wrote. Blumenthal has scheduled a press conference with veterans for this morning.
In the polls, Blumenthal is leading potential Republican opponents Linda McMahon, Rob Simmons and Peter Schiff by 15, 21 and 24 points, respectively, according to TPM Polltracker.
Late update: Blumenthal’s press conference will be held at 2 p.m. ET at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Hartford, Conn.
Later update: Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), whose open seat Blumenthal is running for, says he’s standing behind Blumenthal. “This is a bump,” he said.