Mon., October 4, 2010 2:48pm (EDT)

Linda McMahon Hits Richard Blumenthal On Vietnam In Senate Race
By Frank James
Updated: 4 years ago

In a way, it's surprising Linda McMahon, the Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut, hasn't used, in a non-stop loop of a negative ad that could have been running for months, the ammunition provided by the Democratic nominee, Richard Blumenthal.

McMahon's campaign has a new ad slamming Blumenthal, Connecticut's attorney general, for repeatedly leaving the impression in public appearances over the years that he had served in Vietnam when in fact he hadn't served overseas at all.

The voiceover asks:

"Would you lie about serving in a war? Dick Blumenthal did, again and again. He covered one lie with another. If he lied about Vietnam, what else is he lying about.?"

As the New York Times reported when it broke the story months ago, Blumenthal was in the Marine Reserves but was never deployed to Southeast Asia. In fact, he spent part of the time in Washington, DC working in the Nixon White House.

Shortly after the NYT's initial story, Blumenthal had a news conference in which he surrounded himself with military veterans, some of whom vouched for him.

Afterwards, the controversy seemed to fade away. Blumenthal's approval numbers held firm in polls, a testament to his popularity, and it seemed like he had weathered the controversy.

But with the race tight between McMahon and Blumenthal tight according to recent polls McMahon, the former professional wrestling executive, has clearly decided she must drive his approval ratings down by hammering him with the damning words Blumenthal himself uttered.

While one way Blumenthal has tried to limit the damage, chalking the misimpression he left to verbal slips, McMahon tries to enlarge the damage with that open-ended question no candidate wants to hear directed at him: what else is he lying about?

Few things are worse for a political candidate than being caught in an untruth. That it has to do with something so sacrosanct for many voters as a war record and honor surrounding those who fought makes the situation even dicier for Blumenthal.

The candidates are scheduled to debate Monday evening and even before the debate starts, McMahon has placed him on the defensive. [Copyright 2010 National Public Radio]