Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NY Times: CT Democratic senate candidate lied about Viet Nam service

On Monday, The New York Times published a devastating piece on Connecticut Attorney General and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Richard Blumenthal, alleging that he lied about serving in Viet Nam.  From the article:
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 deferments allowed Mr. Blumenthal to complete his studies at Harvard; pursue a graduate fellowship in England; serve as a special assistant to The Washington Post’s publisher, Katharine Graham; and ultimately take a job in the Nixon White House.

In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, he landed a coveted spot in the Marine Reserve, which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam. He joined a unit in Washington that conducted drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive.
Here's the incriminating video:

The Atlantic reports on Blumenthal's response issued on Monday by his campaign manager:
"The New York Times story is an outrageous distortion of Dick Blumenthal's record of service," Blumenthal's campaign manager, Mindy Myers, said in a statement.

"Unlike many of his peers, Dick Blumenthal voluntarily joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1970 and served for six months in Parris Island, SC and six years in the reserves. He received no special treatment from anyone."

Previewing a campaign event tomorrow, Myers wrote that "Dick has a long record of standing up for veterans. Tomorrow, veterans will be standing up with Dick."
That's pretty weak, if you ask me.  I'd say the Republicans' chances of taking the Senate seat held by Christopher Dodd for thirty years just improved by a lot.  Ed Morrissey agrees:
The Democrats have a very short period of time to find a new candidate, if Blumenthal does the expected and retires from politics. Looking at the calendar, it appears that Democrats only have until May 25th — a week from now — to formally endorse their candidate for Senate, and June 8th to certify the nomination. The problem for Democrats is that they don’t have any other statewide constitutional officeholders that can quickly fill Blumenthal’s shoes. The highest-profile Democratic officeholders in Connecticut are in Congress, and those aren’t exactly riding a wave of popularity. If Democrats try to run a sitting House member in this election cycle, they can kiss the seat goodbye.

This means that a GOP takeover of the Senate suddenly becomes possible again, if still unlikely. It’s the tenth Democratic seat that becomes legitimately in play. If Democrats can’t find a candidate in the next few hours, they may wind up losing both chambers of Congress.

Update: According to the Wall Street Journal, Blumenthal’s staying in (via National Review’s Greg Pollowitz and Allahpundit). That’s as of 9:15 am ET. I doubt that will last, however. Blumenthal won’t have a prayer of winning a statewide election after lying about war service, not even in a liberal state like Connecticut. The Democrats will push him out of the race unless he comes up with a really good cover story for his serial lies about his war record. I don’t think PTSD will work, either.
It doesn't help that Blumenthal bears a striking resemblance to Eliot Spitzer.

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