What Romney Left Out of his Speech to the VFW Today
Mitt Romney gave a big, tough speech to the VFW convention in Reno, Nevada today. I wonder if the folks in the audience knew this because he sure the heck didn’t mention it:
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.
Critics note that the candidate is among three generations of Romneys – including his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, and five sons – who were of military age during armed conflicts but did not serve.
Indeed, Romney strongly supported the war at first. As a freshman at Stanford University, he protested anti-war activists. In one photo, he’s shown in a small crowd of students, smiling broadly, wearing a sport jacket and holding up a sign that says, “Speak Out, Don’t Sit In.”
“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 that’s exactly what Romney did, according Selective Service records. He received his first deferment for “activity in study” in October 1965 while at Stanford.
After his first year at Stanford, Romney qualified for 4-D deferment status as “a minister of religion or divinity student.” It was a status he would hold from July 1966 until February 1969, a period he largely spent in France working as a Mormon missionary.
His 31-month religious deferment expired in early 1969. And Romney received an academic studies deferment for much of the next two years. He became available for military service at the end of 1970 when his deferments ran out and he could have been drafted. But by that time, America was beginning to slice its troop levels, and Romney’s relatively high lottery number – 300 out of 365 – was not called.
Yet another of the brigade of chicken-hawks on the right.