In the 1960s, like most high-profile neocons — Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, John Bolton and their cheerleaders like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly — Mitt Romney avoided serving in the Vietnam War. Like Cheney, Romney sought and received multiple deferments. Cheney had five; Romney had four. (Like George Bush, John Bolton served in the National Guard, which was all but a guarantee against service overseas in those days.)
But unlike his fellow draft-dodging neocons, Romney has a record of lying about his deferments:
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.
As a presidential candidate in 2007, Romney told The Boston Globe he was frustrated, as a Mormon missionary, not to be fighting alongside his countrymen.
“I was supportive of my country,” Romney said. “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 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.