Thursday, 27 May 2010

GOP Rival 'Shared Some Research' With Times on Blumenthal

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Linda McMahon, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, said Wednesday night that she did some of the research for what became a front-page story in the New York Times about how Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal falsely claimed to have served in Vietnam.

"Look guys, let me just say I'm not going to get caught up in the process of what was done yesterday," McMahon said to reporters Wednesday night. "We had done some research, we shared some research — it was a good project and let's move on."

Blumenthal, the state's Attorney General, received five draft deferments, before joining the Marine Corps reserves in 1971. His military service was confined to stateside duty, but on at least one occasion, he told an audience of veterans and senior citizens that he served in Vietnam. "We have learned something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam," Blumenthal said in a speech in Norwalk in March of 2008. A video clip showing Blumenthal making that statement accompanied the online version of the Times article. But a longer clip of the same speech also shows Blumenthal, at the beginning of his remarks, accurately describing himself as "one who served in the military during the Vietnam era in the Marine Corps." The article, appearing in the Times on May 18, quoted other statements Blumenthal made in recent years that seemed to imply he had been in the Vietnam. It also referred to numerous newspaper articles in the state that referred to him as a "Vietnam veteran." Blumenthal acknowledged he "misspoke" on "a few occasions out of hundreds" about his military service.

Ironically, Vice President Joe Biden mocked the "Blumenthal mistake" Tuesday night during a barbecue with veterans at the Vice President's residence, New England Cable News reported.

"I didn't serve in Vietnam," Biden said. "I don't want to make a Blumenthal mistake here. Our Attorney General from Connecticut, God love him." In his initial quest for his party's presidential nomination, Biden was caught on tape in 1987 reciting as his own entire passages of a speech made by Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock of Great Britain. A video, showing excerpts from both speeches, was sent to various media outlets by members of the campaign staff of then-Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, the eventual nominee. It led eventually to Biden's withdrawal from the race, but the controversy over the "attack video" also brought an apology from Dukakis and the resignation of his campaign chairman, John Sasso, and political director, Paul Tully.

Blumenthal appears to have rebounded from the impact of the Times story. A Rasmussen poll conducted on the day the story appeared showed him in a virtual tie with McMahon and holding an 11-point lead over former Republican Congressman Rob Simmons. But a Quinnipiac University Poll conducted earlier this week showed Blumenthal leading McMahon, 56-31 percent.

McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, won the party endorsement at the state convention on May 21, with 737 delegate votes to 632 for Simmons, who announced his intention to run in the August primary. Economist Peter Schiff, with 44 votes did not qualify for a place on the primary ballot. The race is for the Senate seat held by Sen. Christopher Dodd, who announced in January that he would not run for a sixth term.

Photo of Linda McMahon: AP Images

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