Mitt Romney Not Happy About AP Story on His Sons Not Going to Iraq

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By: E&P Staff For the most part, reporters very reluctantly, or not at all, ask candidates for high office -- who strongly support the war in Iraq, and other military actions -- why they have not suggested that their own sons and daughters join the military. But when an average citizen pops the question, it usually draws a revealing remark, as it did today in Bettendorf, Iowa, involving Mitt Romney.

Here is the Associated Press account. The Romney campaign is now contending that the remarks quoted in the story were taken out of context, though it does not dispute they are accurate. It sent to reporters the YouTube video of the exchange. Following the story we provide a transcript.
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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Wednesday defended his five sons' decision not to enlist in the military, saying they're showing their support for the country by ``helping me get elected.''

Romney, who did not serve in Vietnam due to his Mormon missionary work and a high draft lottery number, was asked the question by an anti-war activist after a speech in which he called for ``a surge of support'' for U.S. forces in Iraq.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, also saluted a uniformed soldier in the crowd and called for donations to military support organizations. Last week, he donated $25,000 to seven such organizations.

``The good news is that we have a volunteer Army and that's the way we're going to keep it,'' Romney told some 200 people gathered in an abbey near the Mississippi River that had been converted into a hotel. ``My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard.''

He added: ``One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president.''

Romney's five sons range in age from 37 to 26 and have worked as real estate developers, sports marketers and advertising executives. They are now actively campaigning for their father and have a ``Five Brothers'' blog on Romney's campaign Web site.

Romney noted that his middle son, 36-year-old Josh, was completing a recreational vehicle tour of all 99 Iowa counties on Wednesday and said, ``I respect that and respect all those and the way they serve this great country.''

The woman who asked the question, Rachel Griffiths, 41, of Milan, Ill., identified herself as a member of Quad City Progressive Action for the Common Good, as well as the sister of an Army major who had served in Iraq.

``Of course not,'' Griffiths said when asked if she was satisfied with Romney's answer. ``He told me the way his son shows support for our military and our nation is to buy a Winnebago and ride across Iowa and help him get elected.''

The town-hall-style meeting was the first of eight events scheduled for Romney just three days before the Iowa Straw Poll, a nonbinding beauty contest among the Republican presidential contenders.

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TRANSCRIPT (taken from a YouTube video).

Q My name's Rachel Griffiths, thank you so much for being here and asking for our comments. And I appreciate your recognizing the Iraq War veteran. My question is how many of your five sons are currently serving in the U.S. military and if none of them are, how do they plan to support this War on Terrorism by enlisting in our U.S. military?

ROMNEY: Well, the good news is that we have a volunteer army and that's the way we're going to keep it. My sons are all adults and they've made their decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty. I respect their decision in that regard. I also respect and value very highly those who make a decision to serve in the military. I think we ought to show an outpouring of support just as I suggested. A surge of support for those families and those individuals who are serving. My niece, for instance, just to tell you what a neighborhood can do and how touching it can be.

My niece, Misha, living out West, her husband I think he got a call on a Tuesday. He's in the National Guard. He got a call on a Tuesday that he was going to be called up and shipped overseas on a Thursday. And they just bought a home -? they hadn?t landscaped it -? but the rules in the neighborhood were that unless you got your home landscaped within a year of the time that you bought your home, they began fining you, because they didn?t want people having mud holes in front of their homes. And she was very worried and just before the year expired, she woke up one morning and looked out the window and all the neighbors were out there, rolling down sod, putting up trees, getting it all done.

It?s remarkable how we can show our support for our nation and one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected, because they think I?d be a great president. My son, Josh, bought the family Winnebago and has visited 99 counties, most of them with his three kids and his wife. And I respect that and respect all of those in the way they serve this great country.


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