Behind Blumenthal's War Record Scandal

The presumed senate front-runner gets himself in deep trouble

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Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is running as a Democrat to fill the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Chris Dodd, is embroiled in a scandal that could destroy his previously presumed win. Blumenthal has often referred to his supposed Vietnam war record, but in fact he never served in Vietnam. What should we be reading from this?

  • Blumenthal's Unconvincing Denial  The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reports that the Blumenthal campaign is denying the story. However, "This is the type of story that Blumenthal can close off tomorrow; if he doesn't, it likely drags him down significantly. The facts are not unambiguous. The best the Times has is statements where Blumenthal talked about 'returning' or 'getting back' from Vietnam, but there are plenty of instances where he acknowledges that he never served overseas. That said, he never seemed to correct the impression that he did serve overseas."
  • Dems Should Find a New Candidate  Nate Silver urges finding a replacement. "As with John Edwards' affair, it is a lie that displays a stunning disregard for the trust that Democrats were about to place in Blumenthal by making him their nominee. It is a lie that may even call into question the mental state of the candidate, as it carries no obvious tactical benefit," he writes. "Democrats have little incentive not to nominate a new candidate, as the filing deadline has yet to pass in Connecticut and as their bench in the state is deep." Silver lists potential replacements.
  • Why This Is So Shocking  The Atlantic's Connecticut native Joshua Green reels. "For almost two decades, Blumenthal has been so pure, so revered throughout Connecticut that he has seemed to exist in a realm beyond politics. That's not exaggeration. Everything about Blumenthal seemed to set him apart from the ordinary sleaze and compromise of big-time politics ... For as long as I can remember, Blumenthal has been the crusading consumer advocate, humble, modest, unprepossessing, with that guileless Brylcreem haircut that somehow made him seem even more honorable--a throwback to an earlier era."
  • Why This Is So Outrageous  Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey fumes. "Not only does that show Blumenthal’s response to be pure bunk, it’s actually worse than it seems at first.  Not only was Blumenthal taking credit for serving in Vietnam falsely, he was framing it in a way to make himself part of the victim class," he writes. "It’s one kind of dishonest to burnish one’s military record with claims of battles never fought.  Falsely claiming victimhood as a consequence of those lies is something else entirely, and much more creepy than the former."
  • Opposition Candidate Takes Credit  The Washington Post's Greg Sargent muses, "In an odd strategic move, potential GOP opponent Linda McMahon's campaign is openly taking credit for providing the oppo research that produced this revelation, making it easier to dismiss it as a political hit." He adds, "we may have another contested Senate race on our hands."
  • Big Victory for Linda McMahon  Former GOP official Kevin Rennie praises McMahon, the former pro-wrestling chief who is running as a Republican in the race. "The Blumenthal Bombshell comes at the end of more than 2 months of deep, persistent research by Republican Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign.  It gave the explosive Norwalk video recording to The Times.  This is what comes of  $16 million, a crack opposition research operation and an opponent who, in the words of the president Blumenthal worked for on a draft deferment, who gave them the sword."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.