Photo: Associated Press
Mitt Romney wants to increase our military budget by $2 trillion per year even though our generals think we don't need it. While a student at Stanford in the '60s, Mitt Romney demonstrated on the streets supporting the Vietnam War. "Governor's son pickets the pickets," ran the newspaper headline.
But when he got the chance to serve his country, Romney quickly applied for and was granted four draft deferments between 1965 and 1970, three for academic studies and one as a minister of religion. He left Stanford and went off to Paris, where he lived in a historic grand mansion. From 1966 to 1969, Romney's draft record describes him as a "minister of religion or divinity student."
There's nothing wrong with church work, but Romney could have signed on for a stint as a military chaplain in Vietnam before or after his time in Paris. More than 500 Mormons were injured or killed in the Vietnam War, and many more served. Romney didn't.
Romney audaciously compares the time his five sons have spent working on his political campaigns with the sacrifices of our sons and daughters who have been fighting and dying in the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. None of his sons served in the military.
Whoopi Goldberg, on the "The View" on ABC, tried to trap Ann Romney with a "gotcha" question on Mormonism and military service. Ann Romney had to correct Goldberg on the Mormon faith's view of military service. Goldberg wrongly said that service in the armed forces was forbidden by the religion and was promptly corrected:
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: As first lady, if you get the job, it's going to entail a lot of things, and one of those things is going to be talking to the mothers whose children are coming home in bags, you know, from wars. Now, I know -- I believe that your religion doesn't allow you to go fight.
ANN ROMNEY: No, that's not correct. We have many, many members of our faith that are serving in armed services.
GOLDBERG: Okay, um, I say that because when I read about your husband, what I had read, and maybe you can correct this, is that the reason that he didn't serve in Vietnam was because it was against the religion. That's what I read.
ROMNEY: No, that's not correct. He was serving his mission and you know my five sons have also served missions. None served in the military.
Today, millions of Mormons have served in the military.
One interesting footnote is that in 1966, Romney's father was a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination. In August 1967, George Romney turned abruptly against the Vietnam War, saying he was "brainwashed" by officials in the Pentagon and State Department. This comment doomed his presidential ambitions and paved the way for Richard Nixon's assent to the presidency. George Romney was a real "Profile in Courage."
Many military veterans are outraged at this chickenhawk behavior. "I was eating C rations in the mud fields of Pleiku, Vietnam while he was munching croissants on the banks of the Seine," said Craig Livingston, who helped start the website WeServedAmerica.com. "We owe it to ourselves to vote against this despicable, hypocrite who is unworthy to be our commander in chief."
Livingston says that veterans will be demonstrating in protest of Romney's pro-war position at a Romney rally just outside of Cincinnati in West Chester, Ohio, at 9285 Center Pointe Drive, at 7 pm on Friday, November 2nd.
"As military veterans, we are proud of our service to America," said Livingston. "Sorry, Romney. You are not fit to lead our troops as Commander in Chief."
March 12, 1947: Willard Mitt Romney born
Fall 1965: Enters Stanford, age 18
May 1966: Volunteers to serve as spokesman for pro-Vietnam war demo at Stanford University
July 1966: Requests and receives missionary deferment from the draft. Volunteers and deploys to France for 30-month Mormon mission.
Spring 1968: Appointed Assistant to France Mission President, assigned to palatial headquarters in Paris
Feb. 1969: Enrolls in Brigham Young University upon return to U.S.
1971: Graduates from BYU; Enrolls in Harvard Law and Business schools
1975: Graduates from Harvard
Spring 1975: Saigon falls. Vietnam War is over. Romney avoids military service.