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Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the acknowledged front runner for the Senate seat being vacated by Chris Dodd, lied repeatedly about serving in Vietnam.
Blumenthal, a Democrat, not only never served in combat, he sought multiple deferments to avoid military service and — when those deferments ran out — used political connections to land a coveted spot in a Marine reserve unit that ran Toys for Tots drives and other ceremonial activities in Washington — assuring he would never serve in a war zone.
“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Blumenthal told a gathering in Norwalk, CT, in March of 2008. “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 often claimed service in Vietnam. In 2002, addressing a rally of military families in Bridgeport, CT, Blumenthal talked about attitudes for Veterans returning in Vietnam.
“When we returned, we saw nothing like this,” Blumenthal said. “Let us do better by this genration of men and women.”
The New York Times uncovered Blumenthal’s deception in a front page story today and noted that dozens of stories about the Connecticut Attorney General describe him as a Vietnam veteran and that Blumenthal never attempted to correct the record.
Now, Blumental tells The Times, his story is that he “misspoke” about his service during the event in Norwalk.
Although claims about serving in Vietnam became a major part of his political life, selective service records obtained by the Times through the Freedom of Information Act show he actively sought, and received, at least five deferments from military service. He used connections with powerful friends, like Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham, to obtain a rare “2-A” occupational deferment while working as a special assistant to her.
In 1969, however, Blumenthal, while working in the Nixon White House, received a low draft lottery number — 152. With official help, he landed a spot in 1970 a ceremonial Washington-based Marine Corps. reserve unit that was better known for running Toys for Tots drive and refurbishing playgrounds in the District of Columbia. The unit was never dispatched to Vietnam or considered for wartime service.
Lying about Vietnam is not Blumental’s only deception. In 2004, he claimed to have served as captain of the Harvard swim team. School records show he was not even a member of the team.