NYT Report Alleges Blumenthal Untruthful About Vietnam Record

Posted May 17, 2010 at 9:38pm

Updated: 10:53 p.m.

While all of the focus in political circles is on Tuesday’s primaries in Arkansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, what looks to be an explosive report was published late Monday by the New York Times about Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) and his attempts to avoid service in Vietnam.

The Times reports that records show Blumenthal got at least five military deferments and took repeated steps to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. But the crux of the Times story is that Blumenthal often speaks in a misleading — or in some cases flatly untrue — way about his military service, especially at veterans or military-related events. Read the full story here.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Blumenthal said during a ceremony in March 2008 honoring veterans and seniors who sent presents to soldiers overseas, according to the Times. “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.”

Time will tell just how damaging the report will be for Blumenthal, the unquestioned frontrunner in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D) and an extremely popular politician in the Nutmeg State. The state’s candidate filing deadline is May 25.

At first blush, the story seems pretty damning and Republicans wasted little time before they pounced.

“Mr. Blumenthal owes the people of Connecticut, and particularly its veterans, a thorough explanation for the very serious questions that have been raised over what appears to be a long history of dishonest statements,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh said. “If you can’t trust him to tell the truth about whether or not he served in Vietnam, you have to wonder what exactly can you trust about Richard Blumenthal.”

Republicans are sorting out a messy primary fight to determine their nominee.

A statement from Blumenthal’s campaign blasted the Times story. Blumenthal is expected to hold a press conference on Tuesday with veterans.

“The New York Times story is an outrageous distortion of Dick Blumenthal’s record of service,” campaign manager Mindy Myers said. “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. Dick has a long record of standing up for veterans. Tomorrow, veterans will be standing up with Dick.”