ABC’s “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg called into question Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s lack of military service, asking his wife Ann whether it was because of their Mormon religion.
Ann Romney defended her husband and sons when questioned over their lack of military services, saying they served a different kind of mission. Here she is pictured with her husband, presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney and their son Tagg. (Photo: AP/Carlos Osorio)
In an appearance broadcast Thursday, Goldberg said that if Romney were first lady, she would at some point speak to “mothers whose children are coming home in bags … from wars.” Goldberg then said, “I believe your religion doesn’t allow you to go fight.”
Romney responded that that was incorrect and that there are “many members of our faith that are serving in the armed services.”
Here, Goldberg got to her real question.
“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,” Goldberg said.
Romney shook her head to say that, too, was incorrect; she said it was a different kind of mission her husband was serving, and one her sons have taken on as well.
“He was serving his mission,” Romney said. “My five sons have also served missions. None served in the military, but I do have one son that feels that he’s giving back to his country in a significant way where he is now a doctor, and he is taking care of veterans. So we find different ways of serving, and my five boys and my husband who did serve missions, and did not serve in the military.”
Romney said that when she sent her sons to serve in missions for two years, “I sent them away boys and they came back men.” She said that similar to military service, these missions changed her sons because they were going outside of themselves and helping others.
“That changes you. It changes you,” Romney said. “Are we so grateful in this country for those people — men and women — that are volunteering. They’re sacrificing their life for us.”
Bringing the conversation back to how Romney would speak with mothers whose children did not return from war, Goldberg asked how she would respond to them knowing her children hadn’t served.
“I would say that it’s probably the hardest thing that a president and a first lady probably do is to comfort those that have lost a loved one and have gone in harm’s way,” Romney said, noting that her husband went to every funeral for fallen soldiers in their community when he was governor of Massachusetts. “Of course it’s hard. I don’t think any of us can understand the sacrifice that are being made by families.”
Watch the clip from “The View” with this exchange:
Mitt Romney received four deferments from military service during the draft period for the Vietnam War, which he supported at the time; three were academic and one was for “minister of religion.” When Romney was eligible for the draft, his lottery number was not called and he did not enter into service.
President Barack Obama also has not served in the military.