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Blumenthal Still Leads McMahon After Vietnam Misstatements

Richard Blumenthal
In a Tuesday, May 26, 2009 file photo, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announces during a news conference in his office in Hartford, Conn. that he has asked Craigslist to detail its new and stronger policies and procedures for keeping pornography and prostitution off its recently initiated adult services section, including the process for screening ads. AP

Connecticut's Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal maintains a strong lead over his Republican Senate opponent Linda McMahon, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, in spite of revelations last week that he has made exaggerated claims about his military service.

The Democrat leads McMahon, a former professional wrestling executive, 56 percent to 31 percent in the new poll. His lead is nearly unchanged from March, when he was beating McMahon 61 percent to 28 percent.

Additionally, Connecticut voters still overwhelmingly approve of the job Blumenthal is doing as attorney general. He has an approval rating of 76 percent, including a 63 percent approval rating among Republicans.

Blumenthal was initially considered a shoo-in to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, but questions arose earlier this month about his candidacy when the New York Times reported that in multiple instances he misleadingly suggested he served on the battlefield during the Vietnam War. While Blumenthal served six years in the Marine Corps Reserves, he received at least five deferments to keep him out of Vietnam. Blumenthal said he misspoke and apologized for his misleading statements on Monday.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 33 percent of voters said Blumenthal's misstatements make them less likely to vote for him -- but 61 percent said it doesn't make a difference. Fifty-four percent of voters said that Blumenthal "misspoke" about his military service, while 38 percent said he "lied."

Furthermore, voters still consider Blumenthal more trustworthy than McMahon. Sixty percent said Blumenthal is honest and trustworthy, while only 45 percent said the same about McMahon.

McMahon's former primary opponent, former Rep. Rob Simmons, suspended his campaign earlier this week, but he nevertheless told the National Review that he doesn't think McMahon can win against Blumenthal.

"No, I don't think so at all," he said with respect to whether she could win. Simmons added that if McMahon were to ask him for help campaigning, he would say he is "preoccupied."

Simmons quickly apologized for his remarks against McMahon.

"That was a little harsh, I probably shouldn't have said what I said," he told Politico. "I talked too much and I'm sorry."

Campaigning against Simmons could have posed more of a challenge for Blumenthal, since Simmons is a genuine, decorated Vietnam veteran.