Menendez confident Blumenthal will stay in race

The chairman of the Senate Democrats' campaign committee expressed confidence on Tuesday that embattled candidate Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will remain in his race.

Blumenthal is running for retiring Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) seat this fall and had a strong lead in the polls. But the New York Times reported Monday night that he misrepresented his service record, claiming that he served overseas in the Vietnam War even though records show he never did.

The allegations are considered extremely damaging for Blumenthal's candidacy, but Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said that the Connecticut attorney general would remain in the race.

"I am sure that he will continue to stay in the Senate race and we will continue to support him," he told reporters at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "I will allow the attorney general to explain and make his own case. By the end of the day, he knows all the facts, he knows all the circumstances."

Blumenthal's campaign has called the report an "outrageous distortion" but the Times is standing by its story. 

Democrats were originally happy that Blumenthal stepped in for Dodd. They feared that Dodd, the chairman of the Banking Committee, would have a tough time winning reelection due to his alleged involvement in the Countrywide Mortgage scandal.

The New Jersey senator did not say if he has spoken with Blumenthal and refrained from criticizing him.

"I think first of all, that Attorney General Blumenthal has been an incredible advocate for veterans," he said. "I think he has corrected the record in the past and that his actions speak as to where his heart is and his actions."

Menendez suggested that Blumenthal's Republican opponents, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon and former Rep. Rob Simmons, could be in trouble themselves. 

"Look, the reality is we have not gotten to the full vetting of the Republican candidate," he said. "There is plenty to talk about in that respect."

McMahon's critics have highlighted unseemly events during her time running the professional wrestling circuit, including allegations that players took performance enhancing drugs. 

Simmons served in a special operations unit in Vietnam during the war.

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room 

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