Several news stories on the man that once railed against "Beer Pong" for the Wii and the classification of alcohol use in videogames by the ESRB, are causing the would-be Connecticut senate nominee a major headache today.
First the good news: DSCC Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said today that Democrats "will continue to support" senatorial candidate Richard Blumenthal in his bid to become the next senator from Connecticut. Menendez’s support came hours after a bombshell story in the New York Times that Blumenthal had been "untruthful" about his Vietnam service record. Here’s what the DSCC chairman had to say:
"I think he’s corrected the record in the past and I think his actions as it relates to standing up for veterans over a long period of time speaks volumes about where his heart and his actions are. I’m sure those veterans who will be standing up for him today will make the case for him, that he will continue to stay in the Senate race and that we will continue to support him."
But Blumenthal’s primary opponent for the Senate seat (that will be vacated later this year by Chris Dodd), Merrick Alpert, had some harsh words for the Attorney General, calling him a "liar" and a "coward."
"As a citizen and as candidate, it’s shocking to see someone who has tried to craft this image of themselves as a fighter, as someone who is willing to always step up and tell the truth, to see him lie about serving in Vietnam,” Alpert said during a brief phone conversation tonight.
"He was a coward to go and get five deferments and he’s clearly a liar for standing up for his own political benefit years later…It’s disgraceful behavior from someone who is clearly not qualified to serve in the U.S. Senate."
At a news conference in West Hartford this afternoon, flanked by veterans, the Connecticut Attorney General tried to explain what he said and what he meant. He said that he didn’t know about all the deferments (which is a pretty amazing statement by itself) and that he meant to say that he served "during Vietnam" instead of "in Vietnam." He called it a matter of "a few misplaced words" that were "totally unintentional."
Blumenthal served six months in the Marines training at Parris Island, S.C., and six years in the Marine Reserve, none of it overseas. He joined a unit in Washington that conducted exercises and focused on local projects, such as organizing a Toys for Tots drive, the Times reported. Before that, Blumenthal got five deferments to avoid going to war between 1965 and 1970. Some were for education, others were because he worked in a job that was "important to the nation’s well being."
As for clarifying the record, the Attorney General seemed to put that responsibility on reporters and not on himself. He said that there were hundreds of stories that he didn’t know about and that the mistake wasn’t his, but reporters. But as one Associated Press report points out, "Blumenthal is known to pore over press clips and call reporters to clarify or correct points."
Apparently the key point – stories and news reports about serving "in Vietnam" as opposed to serving "during the Vietnam era" – never crossed his desk or just escaped his attention. No word on when (or if) he will address his imaginary time on the Harvard swim team.