Wednesday, May 19, 2010

At Same '08 Speech, Blumenthal More Correctly Describes Military Record


Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a story about the ambiguous way Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal describes his military service. In the Times' strongest example of Blumenthal's misrepresentations, he says, "when I served in Vietnam."

But as the Associated Press points out today, in a longer version of the speech -- which has been posted on the YouTube page of one of Blumenthal's Republican opponents since the Times story broke -- the attorney general also describes his military service more accurately, saying he "served in the military during the Vietnam era, in the Marine Corps."

The more accurate description comes a couple minutes before the incorrect "I served in Vietnam." Although Blumenthal served in the Marine Corps Reserves for six years during the Vietnam War, he was never deployed overseas.

A spokesman for the Times did not immediately return a request for comment.

Watch the long version:

In the original story, the Times pointed out that Blumenthal had often described veterans returning from Vietnam using the pronoun "we." Several news outlets have described him as a Vietnam vet in profiles. But his one line from the video, taken in March 2008, was by far the most damning.

Blumenthal defended himself in a press conference, saying he had used the wrong words "unintentionally."

A spokesman for Republican candidate Linda McMahon said the longer video doesn't exonerate Blumenthal. It was not the case, he said, that Blumenthal made a "true statement" before making an "untrue statement" in the speech.

"There was a demonstrably untrue statement made in the video, and another statement at the beginning of the video that was, at best, ambiguous," said the spokesman, Ed Patru.

A new poll released today showed that Blumenthal's numbers have plummeted since the story broke. But he's still leading each Republican contender in hypothetical general election matchups.

Late update: A spokesman for the Times says the video doesn't change anything.

"The New York Times in its reporting uncovered Mr. Blumenthal's long and well established pattern of misleading his constituents about his Vietnam War service, which he acknowledged in an interview with The Times," said Diane McNulty. "The video doesn't change our story. Saying that he served 'during Vietnam' doesn't indicate one way or the other whether he went to Vietnam."

She also urged Blumenthal to "come clean:"

"Mr. Blumenthal needs to be candid with his constituents about whether he went to Vietnam or not, since his official military records clearly indicate he did not," she said.

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