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National Dems standing by Blumenthal

UPDATE, 2:13 p.m.: Here's more: The DSCC has just released a list of past quotes from Blumenthal being straight about his record.


National Dems appear to be standing firmly behind Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the heavy favorite in the U.S. Senate race there, despite clear evidence he repeatedly misled voters about his military record.

I've got a copy of the talking points that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is already distributing to outside surrogates, instructing them on how to talk about the Blumenthal mess.

The strategy is twofold: Acknowledge Blumenthal has made mistakes while stressing the "hundreds" of times he's discussed his record. And hammer potential GOP opponent Linda McMahon's campaign for planting the story:

* On a few occasions out of hundreds, Dick misspoke and he'll be the first to admit that those were mistakes. That doesn't take anything away from Dick's service or his long record of standing up for veterans -- he is known throughout the state as a strong advocate for vets services and benefits.

* His opponent's campaign admits they are the ones who cherry-picked the quotes and are behind the hit piece. It is no surprise Linda McMahon would want to smear the Attorney General, considering all of the debauchery at the WWF under her watch, including her attempt to interfere with an investigation into widespread drug abuse.

There are only a few examples of Blumenthal clearly misleading about his record. Yet those examples seem pretty damning.

In 2008, he said: "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam."

He also said: "I served during the Vietnam era. I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse." Though this isn't quite as clear cut, it's hard to see it as anything other than an effort to associate himself with Vietnam vets.

Yet national Dems think he'll survive this, because he has also repeatedly been accurate in representing his record. They hope this will persuade people to see his previous quotes as screw ups, rather than deliberate attempts to mislead. Indeed, don't be surprised if more examples of him accurately discussing his record surface before long

It goes to show that people who are devoted to winning elections are more willing to overlook your transgressions if you hold a 30-point lead in the polls.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 1:27 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Next: Richard Blumenthal will survive


This guy wont have a 30 point lead in the next poll.

Posted by: obrier2 | May 18, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: Earlier you wrote, "It still remains to be seen whether his candidacy can, or should, survive this."

So what's your opinion? Should he withdraw?

Posted by: sbj3 | May 18, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

What is Blumenthal's explanation for the statements? Being in combat isn't something you misremember. I don't like it. The Dems should look for another candidate. Blumenthal isn't really Progressive anyhow. Find someone else to win the seat.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 18, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Democrats are idiots.

Sticking with Blumenthal, yeah, they may be able to keep Dodd's seat in Connecticut (though I too would like to see what the NEXT polls look like).

But it is going to destroy them in other elections. I can already see the Republican campaign commercials, no matter where in the country, talking about how certain candidates are in the party that sticks by a liar and a disgraceful one at that.

But hey, knock yourselves out. Literally.

Posted by: etpietro | May 18, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Good. I'm glad Dems are standing behind him.

Republicans lie DAILY about policies with REAL CONSEQUENCES.

This is NOTHING compared to what Republicans do REPEATEDLY, REGULARLY and with NO ACCOUNTABILITY on matters of great importance.

Death panels. Pull the plug on granny. Drilling in an environmentally sound fashion. Souder preaching abstinence and running as a "family values" conservative. Vitter doing the same while soliciting the services of a prostitute. On and on and on and on and on! They get a free pass. This isn't HALF as bad as the consistent stream of lies from the GOP. I support Blumenthal over any and all Republicans.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 18, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

The man uttered a disgraceful lie. If a Republican had done it I would like to think the outcry would have been the same.

There is no shame in having been a Marine but not in combat. I was a Marine who never served in combat. He knows or should know how a poser looks. It is completely dishonorable,not mention humiliating.

Posted by: wj03412000 | May 18, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Blumenthal should resign. He knew damn well that his record was being fraudulently represented whether or not he actually said all of those things. His were at best lies of omission, but lies nonetheless. He is a liar and a fraud. Lying about one's military service is reprehensible and should bar one from EVER serving in elected office. It is odious and beneath contempt.

I will be writing the DSCC and the national Democratic Party to let them know in no uncertain terms that aping GOP behavior in this instance is not acceptable.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 18, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

If he wore his Marine uniform during the Viet Nam era, there is an excellent chance he was verbally abused. My husband was screeched at wherever he flew. "Baby killer" was the common taunt he got. This occurred BEFORE he actually left for Viet Nam more than once because he flew home a lot. Normally happened at airports. Not a good time to be seen in uniform traveling. He had to wear a uniform to get a reduced travel fare at the time.

Posted by: carolerae48 | May 18, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Anyone watch the press conference?

I'm even more convinced he should stand his ground.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 18, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The film clip in the NYT says it all. There is no debate. They weren't screwups. They were lies.

Lies of the worst kind. The kind where you lie to associate yourself with the brave men who have risked their lives and in some cases given their lives for duty and honor.

Disgusting. I hope he's prosectuted.

Posted by: IUT1 | May 18, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Blumenthal lied about something he didn't do. On TV. In print. In public. For everyone to see. Basking in the reflected glory of others who actually served in Vietnam and in combat. What a bonehead. Fatal flaw. Indefensible. Stick a fork in him, he's done!!

Posted by: dkoflynn01 | May 18, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who thinks the statement about remembering "taunts" and "abuse" was an attempt to mislead voters into believing Blumenthal served in Vietnam clearly did not live in the United States during the Vietnam War, and probably is too young to have a clue what the whole thing was about. Furthermore, all you need to do is use a little common sense, and you will see this has to refer to life in the U.S., not in Vietnam.

Posted by: rjoff | May 18, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Seems that Blumenthal isn't the only one to embarrass himself today. Walmart Blanche forgot she applied for an absentee ballot when she went to vote for herself and had to fill out a provisional one.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 18, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, in Blumenthals defense, he did see the directors cut of The Deer Hunter and we have it on good authority that he does have a DVD of he's got that going for him.

Posted by: luca_20009 | May 18, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

You and I agree on most issues, but not this one. Blumenthal is an odious liar and needs to go. The Dems cannot claim the moral high ground if we accept this kind of behavior from our own. I am not willing to accept it. I plan on making enough of a stink that the DSCC rescinds its support for Blumenthal. If they refuse to withdraw their support then I will actively work to get people in the DSCC responsible fired.

Here is the e-mail I just fired off to the DSCC and to Bluementhal's campaign:

"To Whom It May Concern:
I am appalled at the decision of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to endorse the cowardly lies that Richard Blumenthal has been pedaling for years regarding his military record.  I am a lifelong Democrat and I would not consider EVER donating money to the DSCC if this is the kind of moral statement this organization is willing to make.  

Let us be clear; Blumenthal did not misspeak, he lied.  When he said, "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” he was lying.  When he said, "When we came back [from Vietnam], we were spat on; we couldn’t wear our uniforms,” he was lying.  When he allowed other untruths to remain uncorrected after they were published in MANY sources, it was a lie.  Richard Blumenthal intentionally and fraudulently embellished his military record to serve his own ends.  By doing so he insulted all of those who honorably served their country on the field of battle.  He further mocks and dishonors those who gave their last full measure of devotion by sacrificing their lives in service to their country.  Richard Blumenthal should immediately resign as a candidate for the United States Senate.

It is beneath contempt to lie about one’s military service.  It is an offense that is odious and cowardly and should forever bar one from elected office.  That the DSCC has chosen to support such a cowardly liar is no better.  I expect this kind of behavior from the GOP.  I do not expect it from the DSCC.

I am probably more liberal than anyone on the DSCC staff and I find this action loathsome in the extreme.  This position is neither about being liberal nor conservative, it is about decency and honor.  To support Richard Blumenthal in full knowledge of his decades long campaign of self aggrandizing lies is neither decent nor honorable.  If this decision stands, then it is clearly time that Democrats who are outraged by this behavior take concrete actions that will lead to new leadership within the DSCC."

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 18, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Years ago, I met a man who was in the navy during Vietnam. He talked about himself as being a Vietnam veteran. When I asked him about it, he said that he hadn't actually been in Vietnam but his ship had once sailed into the coastal waters. I asked if he could really claim he was a Vietnam veteran. That made him a little hostile, but in the years afterwards I noticed he always referred to himself as a Vietnam Era veteran.

That's an accurate terminology that many veterans adopted, and it reflected the particularly fraught time in which they served. Blumenthal would be on solid ground if that's what he said. But it's no good if he's said he was an actual Vietnam veteran or not corrected others who've said that he was. No excuses on this one. Find another Democrat.

Posted by: AllButCertain | May 18, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Typical - from a party that thinks its ok for a first lady to recount several time "landing under sniper fire" and who overlook a president who looks down on the American people who "cling to their bibles, their guns, their antipathy towards people who don't look like them, their anti-immigrant and anti-free trade..." and who never lives up too his word about changing the smallness of politics - from knocking all his opponents off the ballot in the cowardly Chicago tradition, to appointment of industry lobbyist in his administration, to his interpretation of a law as unconstitutional even though his administration hasn't read the law. Watch what happens to unprincipled candidates like this when the PA voters get a shot at them. They only care about one thing, and one thing only, their own jobs and advancement in a corrupt political system. No wonder this country is in such trouble - its got no leaders willing to hold themselves to the high standards of military institution and real veterans of foreign wars that they so desperately want to claim as having shared in the sacrifice, while stomping all over everything they are fighting to preserve.

Posted by: clawrence35 | May 18, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

My take on why Blumenthal will survive this:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 18, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"National Dems appear to be standing firmly behind Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the heavy favorite in the U.S. Senate race there, despite clear evidence he repeatedly misled voters about his military record."

Greg, I'm gonna have to say that you should "slow your roll," my friend. :)

"Despite clear evidence that he repeatedly misled voters about his military record?" WTH? You're implying that he willfully deceived voters. That's an incredibly powerful and definitive assertion that you're making, and it's one that you're making without any definitive proof; you're it making (seemingly biased) assumptions about his motives.

As has been noted, Blumenthal's spoken many times about his record and has "misspoken" clearly on one occasion, and more ambiguously on one or two others. [As carolerae48 noted above, you don't have to have served in Vietnam to be disrespected. Sometimes just wearing the uniform or being associated with the military was enough.]

He has also clearly stated -- on most occasions -- that he served "during" the Vietnam Era. What does that say about his motives?

It's curious to assert that one would "mislead" voters on a few occasions about his record, but clearly state it most other times. If you think Blumenthal's an idiot [and maybe you do, but that contradicts your posts about him being careful with his words, which is irrelevant, by the way; even the most careful among us make mistakes from time to time], then I could see your assertion making sense, because only on idiot would think that he could selectively deceive voters without the truth ever coming to light... And why only selectively deceive? It makes no sense. Liars tend to "stick with the lie" (i.e., they tell the story the same way every time).

So, in a nutshell, one shouldn't be so quick to apply nefarious motives to Blumenthal's actions, particularly when we could use Occam's Razor to come to the conclusion that, based on the hundreds of times Blumenthal accurately described his record and the fact that people (even shrewd politicians) make mistakes when they speak, he just simply made a mistake. It's really not farfetched, particularly since the difference between "misleading" and the truth of this matter is determined completely by a change in one little word.

Posted by: associate20 | May 18, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

He lied. He lied about serving in Vietnam.
The people of CT will have to decide whether they want someone who lies about something as important as their military service as their Senator. There is a special place in hell for people who lie about their military service.

Posted by: KathyCorey | May 18, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

It's an excellent letter Gas. I just happen to disagree.

How many times in which he spoke about being a Vet in the Vietnam Era were NOT included in the NYT piece? It sounds like he has been a strong advocate for veterans over decades, so he has probably spoken about military service literally hundreds of times.

As I said, I give him the benefit of the doubt on this one and I think his performance today bears out my instinct upon reading up on the situation. Just my opinion...

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 18, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"I will be writing the DSCC and the national Democratic Party to let them know in no uncertain terms that aping GOP behavior in this instance is not acceptable."

ohhh...a letter will show them. snicker.

here are some choice gasman1 quotes from earlier posts:

"Actually, this will demonstrate the difference between Dems and the GOP when it comes to scandal. Blumenthal is toast. His career is over. He has been exposed as a liar. The Democratic Party will not work to protect him, even if there are elements that would like to. However, if he were in the GOP, his career would not necessarily be over."

"you should be able to discern from my first post that I think Blumenthal should be tossed in the dustbin of political infamy. He is a liar and deserves to go. See, I think that lying about one's military record is a deal breaker. Too bad that the GOP couldn't have exercised that same standard with W. Bush."

my earlier thesis that the gop is no different from the dnc seems to hold true. hopefully gasman1 won't explode.

Posted by: owenmagoo | May 18, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

There is no parsing this one. You don't get credit for all the times you don't lie, that is simply what we expect from people who proport to be honest. This is an absolute deal breaker in my book. If you lie about your military service, you should not ever hold elected office. I also e-mailed Sens. Reid and Menedez regarding the DSCC support for Blumenthal.

My liberalism goes to my core. My membership in the Democratic Party is not much more than skin deep. When the Dems pull Pferdescheiße like this, it reminds me that I am willing to bolt the party in a nanosecond if a viable alternative arises.

This whole thing stinks and helps neither Dems nor Americans in the least.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 18, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

proport = purport

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 18, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

One of the differences between us is that at least I don’t accept the hypocrisy and lies from within my party. Since your reaction to my letter was, “ohhh...a letter will show them. snicker,” what further action would you like from me? How many letters have you written to the GOP concerning the lies emanating from them? I’m betting about zero. Ohhh, no letter at all, that will REALLY show them.

You mistakenly assume that the letter will be my only response. Rest assured, it will not be. But I’ll be sure to run my ideas by you so I know that I’ve got your full approval before I take any further action.

If you need any help crafting critical letters to the GOP, just let me know. I’m sure you’ll want to get right on registering your dissatisfaction with that pack of liars.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 18, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

"The Dems cannot claim the moral high ground if we accept this kind of behavior from our own."


if they take a stand just this once, it will prove that the dems are clearly better than the gop. all other incidents aren't relevant.

seriously g-man...
you see an actual difference between the two parties? where can I buy your magical koolaid?

one party talks about an asteroid of debt getting ready to hit us, but drives our country closer.

the other party ignores the asteroid, and is accelerating the country towards it.

in the grand scheme, it hits us with either set of hands on the wheel.

there is nothing to do to chage our course.

lately, i'm more in touch with the latter plan. I accept that the strike is inevitable, and I'm extremely curious what comes next. why wait or delay?

given the choice of clinging to god(s), guns, or govt, I'd imagine that only the first two will survive.

I have a friend...
10 years as an avowed anarchist, then 10+ as a lib dem. He just figured out that we are fiscally doomed and actually offerred that his political views have always been consistent.

he'll get no argument from me.

Posted by: owenmagoo | May 18, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

No thank you.
Had enough of the 2 party swing.

Posted by: dottydo | May 18, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"One of the differences between us is that at least I don’t accept the hypocrisy and lies from within my party."


you are a democrat. YOUR party 'efd-up' and you write a freaking letter?

I'm an independent. I don't feel any concern towards either party's motives. I I don't give money, and I certainly don't write letters. it is, and always has been a 'lesser of two evils'.

believe it or not, you have a certain yin-yang element to the very same people you despise. you would just rather eat donkey manure, instead of elepahant poo.

that you are writing a letter to the dems, as if they actually care, is just a sign of how big you can open your mouth, for another shovel.

Posted by: owenmagoo | May 18, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Don't think his survival is obvious at all ... in fact it's lookling unlikely.

Posted by: LynneHelm12 | May 18, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

He'll survive? Well, he SHOULDN'T!

He's a crummy lying little pretender. Always playing pristine perfect before the cameras in any given situation.

He lied. He pretended. But then Lieberman survived in Connecticut, so the beeeeg money boys will uudoubtedly rally around their own.

Another dispicable senator on whom we have the goods? Another voice for AIPAC.

Posted by: whistling | May 18, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

associate 20

There's a video, seen all over, with Blumenthal talking about 'when I was in Viet Nam" and how we were treated when we returned. (2008)

Save your snotty bombast for those who want this sleaze to win as much as you do.

But then your the kind who has no RESPECT for those who did/do fight. Think you're too good. Blumenthal is a nasty,
too good to fight liar. SO MANY LIKE HIM ARE. Connecticut gave us LIEBERMAN, too.

Posted by: whistling | May 18, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

So far I've seen only one video of him accurately describing his record and that is only two months old. Lets see the proof that this was just a few times out of hundreds? Where are the tapes of him telling the truth? I bet there are more videos of him lying that will pop up as well. This guy has obviously been a pathological liar for years.

Posted by: Truthteller12 | May 18, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

So far I've seen only one video of him accurately describing his record and that is only two months old. Lets see the proof that this was just a few times out of hundreds. Where are the tapes of him telling the truth? I bet there are more videos of him lying that will pop up as well. This guy has obviously been a pathological liar for years.

Posted by: Truthteller12 | May 18, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Only one example on that DSCC list is a direct quote of him saying he didn't serve in Vietnam. So far he's been caught lying about it more often than telling the truth.

Posted by: Truthteller12 | May 18, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I've watched the video 3 times. He didn't misspeak, he LIED!!! I suppose if he can show that he suffered a stroke right at that moment that might be a plausible explanation, but it looked like a LIE, not a stroke! And he's making it worse by acting indignant about it! I can't imagine a worse lie than saying you served in Vietnam. It claiming the honor that rightfully belongs to those that really went there. Just Incredible!!!! People in CT surely have a higher sense of Honor than to elect this guy????

Posted by: valwayne | May 18, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I feel sorry for Blumenthal and others who have also misrepresented thier military service between 1964 and 1973. Henry V said in the St. Cripin Day speech that "men who are now abed in England will curse themselves and hold their manhood cheap that they were not here with us today." He had to work hard for the deferments he did get. I was also a reservist who served "during the Viet Nam era" if you want to use that artful dodge but one does not say it that way unless one is trying to deceive and its too bad because his record as AG otherwise has been good. But by dissembling now and making excuses deceit will only make it worse since reporters will now dig for other examples of resume enhancement. People often don't understand laws and policy issues but they understand character flaws like this. If he is not toast by the end of the week he should be and Democratic leaders in Connecticut and DC will be well advised to find a more honest candidate to replace Blumenthal than try to ride this boat down where it is going.

Posted by: MarkRhoads2 | May 18, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree--that 30 point lead is sure to erode fast.

But I have to say to Greg Sargent that
this particular quote that you cite is not fair game. It is absolutely an accurate representation on Blumenthal's part:

"He also said: 'I served during the Vietnam era. I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse.'"

Posted by: janeb2 | May 18, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

You don't "mis-speak" and refer to your stateside military reserve service as service in a combat zone. It's pretty darn hard to confuse requesting deferment after deferment with getting shot at.

Posted by: usr105 | May 18, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

He's finished. It isn't just his personal statements, it is the numerous high-profile articles that have described him as a Vietnam vet. It is inconceivable that he did not read these articles. Yet not once did he act to correct a serious factual error. And, as the Times also reported, he claimed to be the captain of the Harvard swim team -- when he wasn't even on the Harvard swim team. If the Democrats want to hold his seat, he's got to go.

Posted by: pjm1 | May 18, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Blumenthal has shown that he is not only a LIAR, but that he attempted to steal the honor, bravery, and loyalty of those who served during Vietnam -- IN VIETNAM. He displayed the colors of the liberal democrat -- 'do as I say, not as I do'.

Of greater import to us voters, this guy has also shown that HE IS A COWARD -- given all of his deferments!

Really feel for those veterans who were used as a stage prop this afternoon. Lost every ounce of respect for a liar who will use veterans who were brave enough to serve as a PROP to save his sorry rump! He has ZERO ETHICS – glad we found it out now!!

Like way too many in Washington already, Blumenthal suffers from a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. We do not need anymore in DC!!

MACV - '69 - '70!

Posted by: wheeljc | May 18, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

This is another one of those deals where the politicians don't get it - but normal people do. He said "I served in Vietnam". Unfortunately for him, he didn't serve in Vietnam. This is not "Mis-speaking", this is lying! This guy does not belong in the US Senate or any other elected office. If the democratic party leadership rallies around this guy, it will only hurt the whole party.

Posted by: dannyboy2 | May 18, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

@ whistling:

"There's a video, seen all over, with Blumenthal talking about 'when I was in Viet Nam" and how we were treated when we returned. (2008)"

1) Get your facts straight. No, that's not Blumenthal said in the video. He said, "“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam. 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.”

Nothing about about "returning from Vietnam." And as I noted above, one did not have to have been a Vietnam vet to be ridiculed and taunted.

2) Dismiss my comment as "bombastic" if you wish -- entirely your prerogative. But, don't fault me for thinking that one instance (and a couple ambiguous instances that could easily be argued as consistent with Blumenthal's statements about serving "during" the Vietnam War) should not be sufficient grounds for declaring the man "lied about his service."

I think using one "money" quote to brand someone is odd. Particularly, since there seems be no other record of Blumenthal making such a definitive statement; other digging has found that he described his service accurately on other occasions.

Had Blumenthal been reading from his notes (he wasn't; he seemed to be ad libbing in the "smoking gun" video), and had he repeatedly made the same statement, I think people would have grounds for hitting him so harshly.

The existence of video that shows him accurately describing his record, to me, suggests that he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Certainly, I reserve the right to change my opinion if another video and/or episodes surface of him "misstating" his service record. But, as things stand now, I think this is a rush to judgment based on an article that was carefully constructed to paint Blumenthal's motives in a negative light. I mean, the NYT article at one point even talked about Blumenthal "ingratiating" himself with well-to-do people.

It all seems like the author of that article approached the story with a specific (and incredibly skewed) premise in mind and crafted the piece to reflect that premise, and not let the facts dictate where the story went.

The article was constructed to orchestrate a rush to judgment and derision, and I see people playing precisely into that manipulation.

Forgive me if I have a problem with that.

Posted by: associate20 | May 18, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

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