Dole Questions Kerry’s Vietnam Wounds

Dole Questions Kerry’s Vietnam Wounds (AP)

Former Republican Sen. Bob Dole suggested Sunday that John Kerry apologize for past testimony before Congress about alleged atrocities during the Vietnam War and joined critics of the Democratic presidential candidate who say he received an early exit from combat for “superficial wounds.” Dole also called on Kerry to release all the records of his service in Vietnam.


Dole told CNN’s “Late Edition” that he warned Kerry months ago about going “too far” and that the Democrat may have himself to blame for the current situation, in which polls show him losing support among veterans. “One day he’s saying that we were shooting civilians, cutting off their ears, cutting off their heads, throwing away his medals or his ribbons,” Dole said. “The next day he’s standing there, ‘I want to be president because I’m a Vietnam veteran.’ Maybe he should apologize to all the other 2.5 million veterans who served. He wasn’t the only one in Vietnam,” said Dole, whose World War II wounds left him without the use of his right arm.

Dole added: “And here’s, you know, a good guy, a good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of. I mean, they’re all superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you’re out.”

Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton said: “It’s unfortunate that Senator Dole is making statements that official U.S. Navy records prove false. This is partisan politics, not the truth.”

Wow. I invoked Dole’s name yesterday, noting the contrast between the severity of injuries that a Purple Heart can cover, but didn’t expect he’d come out with something like this. I don’t doubt that the sentiment is geniune, however. I don’t think Dole mentioned his World War II service nearly as often in 1996 as Kerry has so far. The resentment of some veterans is quite palpable.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Andy00 says:

    This is unbelievable. Right after I saw this Bob Dole say this, I’m watching ABC, and they’re saying that Kerry’s campaign is saying “unless Bush denounces the ads, the attacks on his National Guard records will continue.”

    Those IDIOTS! I’m in AWE of how stupid saying that is! Do we have any direct confirmation this is official?

  2. Bithead says:

    I don’t think Dole mentioned his World War II service nearly as often in 1996 as Kerry has so far.

    That’s because Dole had a record of other accomplishments to run on.

  3. Paul says:

    I did not think much of this at first, but as I consider it, Dole could smack the hell out of Kerry.

    If Dole takes the lead as attack dog (admittedly unlikely) Kerry would be REAL hard pressed to attack back. Dole REALLY got wounded defending this country. Further many older (WWII) vets who might back the Democrat otherwise, might be swayed by Dole calling him out..

    Kerry better hope this was a one time comment. Dole could damage him.*


    * Remember that in a race that is statistically tied near anything could damage either side.

  4. capt joe says:

    let’s not forget that the left (the nation in particular) ran several attack stories on Dole’s war record.

    As well, in 1992 Sidney Blumental wrote a rather nasty “expose” in the New Republic hinting that Bush may have left his fellow airman and abiled form the plane leaving them to their deaths.

    If one adds Adm Boorda’s suicide as an extensive campaign, it all adds up to a rather nasty history for the left on decorated war vets.

    So why is Kerry getting a pass based on history?