Cornyn rips Blumenthal, defends Paul

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) struck different tones on Saturday when discussing controversies surrounding two Senate candidates.

Cornyn, the Senate Republicans' top campaign strategist said that Connecticut candidate Richard Blumenthal's (D) exaggerations of his service record during the Vietnam War are a "game-changer."

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"I think that's a potential game-changer. I think character, credibility, personal integrity are very important and I think he has hurt himself badly," he said on Bloomberg's "Political Capital."

Asked if Republicans are now favored to win the seat, he said "I think it's in play."

The GOP pounced on Blumenthal's statements, which were first reported by the New York Times. GOP candidate Linda McMahon even took credit for leaking the information to the Times. But Democrats have defended the state attorney general, calling the incident a distortion of Blumenthal's actual words. 

Cornyn appeared to amp up his response to the incident from earlier this week, when he called the allegations a "blow" to the candidate.

Another candidate, Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also came under fire this week for questioning the legality of the Civil Right Act of 1964, which ended sanctioned racial segregation. But Cornyn was more lenient with Paul than he was with Blumenthal.

"Look, you know, candidates make mistakes," he said. "They misspeak. I don't mean to tell intentional untruths like we saw in Connecticut, I mean misspeak. I think Rand Paul like every new candidate is going to get better."

Cornyn predicted that "he is going to be the next U.S. senator."

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Cornyn chairs, did not back the Tea Party-endorsed Paul in the primary over establishment candidate Trey Grayson, who was soundly defeated.

Cross-posted from the Briefing Room