Uh-oh: CT Dem Sen candidate misrepresented Vietnam service

Posted on May 17, 2010

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The New York Times delivers a shocking revelation about Democratic Senate candidate from Connecticut Richard Blumenthal – the candidate apparently has misrepresented his service in Vietnam and made no attempt to correct the media record about his time in the Marine Reserve:

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

The Blumenthal campaign has said the New York Times article is a hit piece, and vows more pushback. And Blumenthal hasn’t explicitly lied about his Vietnam service – just used ambiguous language that led numerous newspapers and publications to describe him as a Vietnam veteran, seemingly never correcting them in order to let a more decorated record than a reservist in the Washington area circulate through the press.

It is important to note that Blumenthal never flat-out claimed he did things he never did. But it is rather damning that so many media articles were published over the last ten years describing him as Vietnam veteran with nary a peep of protest from Blumenthal. If he had made the distinction clearer earlier, the NY Times article wouldn’t be as big as it is already becoming within a few hours of its online publication.

Why is this such a big deal nationally? Blumenthal is running for the Democratic Senate seat held by retiring Christopher Dodd, and had held impressive 20-point leads over his Republican challengers up to this point. If he stays in, the lead will melt, even in blue Connecticut. Military service in Vietnam just isn’t something you shrug your shoulders about, no matter what color your state is. And it hurts doubly that the likely GOP challenger Rob Simmons actually is a bona fide Vietnam vet, earning two Bronze Stars.

And, sorry, it’s hard for me to buy that the New York Times would run a hit piece on a Democrat. There’s no reason for them to do so in an editorial sense unless Pinch has a personal dislike for the guy.

Folks are calling for him to quit over this, which would give the CT Dems enough time to field another viable (but potentially less successful) candidate. But Blumenthal’s early pushback on this lead me to think that he might stick it out and see where the cards fall. Either way, this throws the “lock” the Dems had on the CT seat into a state of flux for the next several weeks. It may be that Blumenthal will fend off the accusations and remain the winner, but there’s no doubt it will be a tougher hill to climb from here on out.

Cross-posted at The Moderate Voice

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Posted in: News, Politics