In a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall jammed with reporters and television cameras waiting to hear what Richard Blumenthal would say about a flap that threatened to dismember his U.S. Senate campaign, two Bristol Democrats calmly waited beside the stage.
“We’re here to support Blumenthal,” said Elliott Nelson, the Democratic Party chair in Bristol.
He said that Blumenthal has always been there for Bristol “so we’re here to show our support for him.”
At his side was Jim Brown, a U.S. Air Force veteran who lost his kneecap in the service.
Brown, whose family has a long record in the military, said he’s seen Blumenthal speak at many veterans events over the course of years.
“He never, ever misspoke,” Brown said, and always described his six years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve accurately.
Given the attorney general’s strong stance in favor of helping veterans more, Brown said, he has no doubt of Blumenthal’s integrity.
“He’s a veteran in my mind,” Brown said.
He said that Blumenthal, under fire for claiming on a few occasions to have served in Vietnam, “probably made a mistake” in choosing his words.
But, Brown said, Blumenthal never intended to mislead anyone.
When the attorney general arrived, Brown sat in a chair at the end of the stage wearing his leather Disabled Veterans cap. Nelson had a better view.
Blumenthal gave no ground in his remarks, insisting that he had merely misspoken a few times out of hundreds of speeches he’s given urging better treatment for veterans.
He said he regretted the mistake, but deliberately stopped short of apologizing. Blumenthal said the errors were “absolutely unintentional.
Blumenthal criticized the New York Times story that sparked the frenzy for skipping past the six years he put into the Reserves, denigrating service in the reserves and levying the “completely untrue” charge that he pulled in favors to get into the Marines.
In fact, Blumenthal said, he called a Marine Corps recruiter in the nation’s capital to sign up and soon found himself on a midnight bus to Paris Island for boot camp – a long way from the White House job he held beforehand.
At the end, Nelson and Brown managed to shake the attorney general's hand before proclaiming that Blumenthal had successfully fended off the challenge to his campaign.“He just made a mistake,” Brown said. “Everybody does.”
Update: Here's another story with local reaction to the Blumenthal saga.*******
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