WASHINGTON (CHICAGOPRESSRELEASE.COM) –
Richard Blumenthal, the early favorite to win retiring fellow Democrat Christopher Dodd’s Senate seat from Connecticut, never served in the military in Vietnam despite his public comments indicating he had done so, the New York Times reported on Monday.
If these revelations harm Blumenthal’s campaign, they could help Republicans pick up a Senate seat now in Democratic hands as they try to gain control of Congress in November elections.
Blumenthal, Connecticut’s state attorney general, received at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970, the newspaper said, citing his military records. It said in April 1970, Blumenthal landed a spot in the Marine Corps Reserve but never actually was sent to serve in Vietnam during the war.
Blumenthal, 64, often has used misleading language in public comments about his military record, the newspaper said.
The newspaper cited a 2008 speech in Norwalk, Connecticut at a ceremony honoring veterans and others who sent gifts to U.S. troops overseas in which Blumenthal 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,” Blumenthal added, according to the Times.
The Times said the Marine Corps Reserve unit to which he was assigned was known for performing tasks like collecting and distributing toys as part of Toys for Tots holiday drives.
The Times said it obtained Blumenthal’s Selective Service records through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Sometimes his remarks have been plainly untrue, as in his speech to the group in Norwalk. At other times, he has used more ambiguous language, but the impression left on audiences can be similar,” the Times article said.
The Times quoted Blumenthal as telling them in an interview on Monday that he had misspoken about his service during the Norwalk event and might have misspoken on other occasions. “My intention has always been to be completely clear and accurate and straightforward, out of respect to the veterans who served in Vietnam,” he said, according to the Times.
The unpopular incumbent Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announced in January he would not seek re-election this year, prompting Blumenthal to enter the race.
Public opinion polls have shown Blumenthal comfortably leading the front-runner for the Republican Senate nomination in the race, Linda McMahon, the former chief executive of professional wrestling company World Wrestling Entertainment Inc, in a hypothetical head-to-head contest.
McMahon leads former Republican U.S. congressman Rob Simmons in polls in the race for the Republican nomination.
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Will Dunham)