As Rachel Maddow noted, with the recall election in Wisconsin this Tuesday, this story fell off of the radar and wasn't covered by much of the media, but hopefully that will change soon. After the swift-boating of John Kerry, the ousting of Dan Rather after he reported on George W. Bush and how he managed to avoid combat service in Vietnam and John McCain running on his military record and making it central to his campaign, Maddow wondered if the press will pay similar attention to Romney's revolving stories about his draft deferments and his claims that he actually desired to serve in combat in Vietnam.
We can add this to the long list of lies and flip flops that Romney has been telling since running for various political offices and as Maddow rightfully pointed out, I guess we'll find out before long which version of the story Romney is going to settle on during this presidential campaign.
On a stage crowded with war heroes, Mitt Romney recently praised the sacrifice "of the great men and women of every generation who serve in our armed services."
It is a sacrifice the Republican presidential candidate did not make.
Though an early supporter of the Vietnam War, Romney avoided military service at the height of the fighting after high school by seeking and receiving four draft deferments, according to Selective Service records. They included college deferments and a 31-month stretch as a "minister of religion" in France, a classification for Mormon missionaries that the church at the time feared was being overused. The country was cutting troop levels by the time he became eligible for the draft, and his lottery number was not called.
President Barack Obama, Romney's opponent in this year's campaign, did not serve in the military either. The Democrat, 50, was a child during the Vietnam conflict and did not enlist when he was older.
But because Romney, now 65, was of draft age during Vietnam, his military background – or, rather, his lack of one – is facing new scrutiny as he courts veterans and makes his case to the nation to be commander in chief. He's also intensified his criticism lately of Obama's plans to scale back the nation's military commitments abroad, suggesting that Romney would pursue an aggressive foreign policy as president that could involve U.S. troops.
A look at Romney's relationship with Vietnam offers a window into a 1960s world that allowed him to avoid combat as fighting peaked. His story also demonstrates his commitment to the Mormon Church, which he rarely discusses publicly but which helped shape his life.
Romney's recollection of his Vietnam-era decisions has evolved in the decades since, particularly as his presidential ambitions became clear. Read on...