As usual, Romney is only too happy to support all sides of every issue (and lie about it).
Back in 1965 while a student at Stanford University, Romney was a strong supporter of the Vietnam war and participated in pro-war protests. Not only did Romney not enlist in the war he praised, the same year he was protesting Romney sought and received his first student deferment. Even though deferments were available to students, they were not automatically granted — students had to apply for them. Slightly hypocritical.
When he was no longer eligible for a student deferment, he applied for and received a deferment as a “minister of religion” to do Mormon missionary work in France. This, however, was not a routine deferment and was controversial. At the time the Mormon church was a strong supporter of the war and discouraged its missionaries from obtaining a deferment. Indeed, during the time that Romney had such a deferment, the church started limiting the number of church missionaries who were allowed to defer their military service.
Not only did Romney get a religious deferment, he received an extraordinary long one (from 1966 to 1969, during the height of the war). How? Recall that Romney’s father George was both rich and powerful. Even though three generations of the Romney family, including George and all of his sons (including Mitt) were of military age, none of them served. In 1969, after his (extra long) religious deferment ran out, he applied for and obtained yet another college deferment. Even more hypocritical.
While Romney was originally a strong supporter of the war, by the 5th year of his deferment he had changed his mind. In an interview with the Boston Globe he said “If it wasn’t a political blunder to move into Vietnam, I don’t know what is.”
In 1994, when Mitt Romney was running for the Senate, 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.” Of course that last part is a complete fabrication, since Selective Service records clearly show Romney applying for repeated deferments.
But it doesn’t stop there. In 2007 during his first bid for the White House, Romney told the Boston Globe “I was supportive of my country. 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.” Even bigger lie.
And of course, Romney follows in the footsteps of a long line of Republican chicken hawks with their pro-military rhetoric. Even though he never served in the military Romney wants to increase military spending dramatically, and often saber-rattles against Iran. He also attacks Obama for his plans to scale back the nation’s military commitments abroad.
Of course, some people may want to point out that Barack Obama did not serve in the military either. But Obama is 15 years younger than Romney, and was a young child during the Vietnam war.
UPDATE: The secret diary of Mitt Romney’s service in Vietnam as a “chickenhawk”. Fred Wickham hits another hilarious bullseye!