McMahon ad revives Vietnam issue

With new video of previously reported remarks, Republican Linda McMahon’s campaign today breathed new life into the story of Democrat Richard Blumenthal’s misstatements about his Vietnam-era military service.

McMahon’s campaign released a television commercial that for the first time will give wide exposure to two video clips of Blumenthal falsely referring to service in Vietnam. Neither clip breaks new ground.

Both clips are of previously reported remarks during speeches in Norwalk in 2008 and one in Bridgeport in 2003. They were the basis of a New York Times story in May that revealed Blumenthal had on at least two occasions claimed to have been in Vietnam.

For a time, the story threatened to capsize Blumenthal’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

The McMahon campaign said in May it had provided video of the 2008 speech to The Times. Today, the campaign’s spokesman, Ed Patru, declined to say how long it has possessed video of the 2003 remarks.

But the release of the ad was timed for maximum effect, coming on a day when the national political press is expected to focus on the first Blumenthal-McMahon debate, which will be televised live tonight at 7 on Fox61.

If Blumenthal’s misstatements are old news, they are presented in a dramatic new format. The commercial features him talking about service in Vietnam, while war footage plays.

“Would you lie about serving in a war?” asks an announcer.

It quickly cuts to video of Blumenthal in 2008, when he told an audience in Norwalk: “We have learned something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam.”

An echo effect repeats the line, “I served in Vietnam…I served in Vietnam.”

Then it follows with the video from a speech at a welcome-home ceremony In Bridgeport for Iraq War troops in 2003: “When we returned, we saw nothing of this gratitude.”

Within a half-hour of the ads’ release, the Times published a story online about the new video, without noting that the paper already had reported Blumenthal’s remarks at the same speech in May.

The quotation in the Times’ story from May varies slightly from Blumenthal’s remarks in the new video, but the McMahon campaign confirmed the video was of the previously reported 2003 speech, not a new example of Blumenthal’s misstating his record.

There are five known instances of Blumenthal referring to service in Vietnam, which he has called mistakes. In his official biography and in numerous public appearances, including a televised debate in March, Blumenthal has carefully described his service as a stateside reservist.

Patru had no immediate answer regarding a request by The Mirror to view the entire video.

“It’s another desperate attack from a losing campaign with nothing to say,” said Mindy Myers, Blumenthal’s campaign manager. “Linda McMahon’s money can’t buy Dick Blumenthal’s genuine record of standing up and fighting for the people of Connecticut.”

Blumenthal had no real explanation in an interview with The Mirror in June, his first after the story broke, about how a Yale-educated lawyer who tends to speak with the care of someone dictating a memo, could refer to military service in Vietnam, if he meant to say during Vietnam.

“You know, all I can say is I regret it,” Blumenthal said. “I take full responsibility. And I am truly sorry to anyone who was hurt or offended or confused.”

Blumenthal said he was “astonished” to be told by the New York Times on May 17 that he had at least twice referred to being in Vietnam, once in 2003 and again in 2008. Three other examples have since surfaced.



(Video of soldier in combat.)

Announcer: Would you lie about serving in a war?

(Cuts to video of Blumenthal in Norwalk, March 2008.)

Blumenthal: We have learned something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam.

Announcer: Dick Blumenthal lied. Again and again.

(Cuts to video of remarks in Bridgeport, April 2003.)

Blumenthal: When we returned, we saw nothing of this gratitude.

Announcer: He covered one lie with another.

(Cuts back to Norwalk video.)

Blumenthal: …since I served in Vietnam.

Announcer: If he lied about Vietnam, what else is he lying about?