In one of the most shameless political performances since the days of Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal just gave a press conference in which he blamed "misplaced words" for the fact that he was caught lying about having served in Vietnam.
A New York Times report published today found that on numerous occasions, Blumenthal either directly said he served in Vietnam, or phrased things in such a way as to leave his audiences with that impression -- even though he received at least five deferments.
This afternoon, a defiant Blumenthal appeared at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall to respond to the story. He was introduced by a friend who said he was a Marine Corps veteran and called the charges against Blumenthal "malicious" and "deceptive." During his own remarks, Blumenthal emphasized that he served in the Marine reserves during the Vietnam War and said he "misspoke" about his service on a few occasions completely unintentionally.
"Unlike many of my peers, I chose to join the military and serve my country," he said. "I am proud of my service in the United States Marine Corps."
While he said that he usually described serving "during the Vietnam era," he accidently misspoke in one quote when he substituted "in" for "during."
"On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that, and I take full responsibility," he said. "But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country."
When asked directly by a reporter whether he would apologize, his supporters in the room shouted "Noooooo!" and he refused. Instead, he reiterated that he "regrets" misspeaking.
This sort of lawyerly posturing created a lot of fodder for late night comics during the Clinton era, but politically speaking, it worked, and he was able to survive numerous scandals. We'll have to see if Connecticut voters are as forgiving of Blumenthal after this laughable performance.
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