Mitt Romney regularly prides himself as a champion of the military and the nation’s veterans (despite the fact that has offered little to no details about how he would address veterans issues). Romney recently praised the sacrifice “of the great men and women of every generation who serve in our armed services.” But in a new story examining Romney’s own military record, the AP notes that “it is a sacrifice the Republican presidential candidate did not make.”
During the height of the Vietnam War, Romney avoided military service by seeking and receiving four military draft deferments, some for university study and others for serving as a “minister of religion” in France.
But during his political career, Romney has flip-flopped on whether he actually wanted to serve in Vietnam. In 2007, Romney — a supporter of the war in Vietnam during the late-1960s — said he had wished he had served:
“I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there, and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam.”
But the AP notes that this isn’t what Romney said back in 1994 during his campaign to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate:
But the frustration he recalled in 2007 does not match a sentiment he shared as a Massachusetts Senate candidate in 1994, when he told The Boston Herald, “I was not planning on signing up for the military.”
“It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam, but nor did I take any actions to remove myself from the pool of young men who were eligible for the draft,” Romney told the newspaper.
But in seeking 4 deferments, Romney did in fact take actions to remove himself from the draft. In 1970, Romney eventually became eligible but by that point, the United States had begun reducing the number of troops in Vietnam and as the AP reports, “Romney’s relatively high lottery number — 300 out of 365 — was not called.”
While Romney’s lack of military service record raises questions (President Obama also did not serve in the military but was not of draft-age at the time of the Vietnam War), a recent Gallup poll found that veterans favor Romney over Obama 58 percent to 34 percent.
“Greatness in a people, I believe, is measured by the extent to which they will give themselves to something bigger than themselves,” Romney said in a Memorial Day speech last week in San Diego.