• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Romney Sons Join Campaign, Not Army

Mitt Romney has given what may be the dumbest answer ever by a presidential candidate.

Romney Sons Join Campaign, Not Army Republican presidential hopeful, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, right, talks with Dearld Nanke, of Mechanicsville, Iowa, during a visit to The Cove diner in Moscow, Iowa, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) 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.

[...]

“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 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.”

Now, I fully agree with Romney that we have an all-volunteer force and that his sons have every right to decide Army life isn’t for them. But, sheesh, let’s not pretend campaigning for dad’s political ambitions is somehow equivalent to going to war.

This gratuitous slap by the AP is a bit unkind, however:

Rival John McCain’s son, Jimmy, a 19-year-old Marine, had orders to go to Iraq this summer. The Arizona senator is a decorated Vietnam War veteran and former POW.

Ouch.

UPDATE: Romney argues the quotes are taken out of context.

The campaign sent the following message:

Governor Romney respects his sons’ career decisions, but he is certainly not equating their assistance on the campaign with service in our Armed Forces. I think listening to the full audio makes this clear:

Question: “Hi, 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?”

Governor 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.” (Governor Mitt Romney, Remarks At An Ask Mitt Anything, Bettendorf, IA, 8/8/07)

Frankly, I think the longer version is more harmful to Romney than the AP story. The story about lawn care is just bizarre in the context of people risking their lives in Iraq.

Steve Benen thinks the context was right but that the question itself was inappropriate. He’s right, I think.

Related Posts:

  • None Found

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. M. Murcek says:

    The big question is how did that alien from Deep Space Nine get into the rally?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with his answer. It is a volunteer army and his sons chose a different path. Unless we are going to apply a military service test for presidential candidates and their families why are we asking this question?

    Service to your community through committees, commissions, councils or volunteer work is all part of being a good citizen. Being a good citizen is, in a small way, serving your country. The landscaping story shows good citizens supporting military families. Every little bit helps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. M1EK says:

    This is relevant insomuch as it continues to show that modern Democrats are actually more likely to have served than are modern Republicans, even including family members. Jim Webb, for instance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  4. not the senator says:

    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.

    That’s the dumb as a doornail part, that he equates his kid driving around Iowa to get dad elected to those in military service.

    Between Romney and Bush II, Harvard MBAs are going to get a bad name.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. jpe says:

    Unless we are going to apply a military service test for presidential candidates and their families why are we asking this question?

    Bad question? Sure. Worse answer? Absolutely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  6. Andy says:

    I think the, “what about your kids?” issue is somewhat legitimate, not for the kids, but for the politician. First, the kids should be compelled to do anything that they don’t want to do, period.

    But if a politician supports the war, particularly with language about Islamofacism being the biggest threat to our way of life, shouldn’t they be able to convince their own children of the great necessity to serve?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. just me says:

    I think it is an unfair question-mostly because candidates have adult children, and the decision to enlist is up to them. Not to mention you don’t hear anyone asking Hillary when Chelsea plans to enlist.

    I think Romney’s first part was a very good answer to a really dumb question. He should have stopped there, because the rest of his answer was pretty idiotic-in or out of context.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Anjin-san says:

    Helping America by helping ourselves…

    There’s no doubt, the man is a Republican.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. bruhaha says:

    continues to show that modern Democrats are actually more likely to have served than are modern Republicans

    Which, of course, explains why the military vote has been so strongly pro-Bush, pro-GOP ! (In other words, what a load of nonsense! As is this whole ‘chicken hawk’ strategy.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Len says:

    Not to mention you don’t hear anyone asking Hillary when Chelsea plans to enlist.

    I wish someone would. It would be interesting to see if her answer would be as stupid as Mitt’s.

    “Chelsea is serving her country by helping me get elected because she thinks I would be a great president.”

    I’d love to see the right wing jump all over that one!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. se7en says:

    Mitt’s answer is exactly right and good: “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.”

    What would YOU say James, if in the same situation?

    [Remainder of comment deleted for violation of site policies.]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Andy says:

    Mitt’s answer is exactly right and good: “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.”

    Come on now, you’re just being simple. No one has any problem with this part of his answer. It’s his ridiculous comparison of military service and helping him get elected. No one gets a Purple Heart for strapping a dog to the car roof.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. [...] Toldjah Outside the Beltway GOP Bloggers Hugh Hewitt News Busters Bookmark to: Sphere: Related Content Posted by: Brian in: [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. James Joyner says:

    What would YOU say James, if in the same situation?

    Well, I don’t have any sons and I served in a war, as did my dad.

    Otherwise, I agree with the first part of Romney’s defense; it’s merely the second part that’s silly:

    Now, I fully agree with Romney that we have an all-volunteer force and that his sons have every right to decide Army life isn’t for them. But, sheesh, let’s not pretend campaigning for dad’s political ambitions is somehow equivalent to going to war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. Anderson says:
  16. Jan says:

    Andy is right is saying “But if a politician supports the war, particularly with language about Islamofacism being the biggest threat to our way of life, shouldn’t they be able to convince their own children of the great necessity to serve?”

    Romney is showing another flip-flop–saying the GWOT is the greatest issue of our times, but hasn’t convinced even one of his five sons – or any daughters for that matte- to join the service.
    It was a valid and legit question, with Romney’s position in mind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  17. Bandit says:

    Romney is showing another flip-flop–saying the GWOT is the greatest issue of our times, but hasn’t convinced even one of his five sons – or any daughters

    Flip flop on what? Did he say he was going to convince his kids to go to Iraq? It’d be pretty tough for him to convince ‘any daughters’ that he doesn’t have wouldn’t it? WTF kind of dreamworld do the lefties live in where they think parents can or should ship their kids off to the armed forces against their will? I guess freedom of choice is pretty limited in it’s exercise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Andy says:

    Well, Bandit, you still don’t get it. No one is saying that a parent can or should force a child to go to war. The child can do whatever he or she (in this case, just hes) wants.

    The point is that the parent SHOULD be able to convince their own child to serve, if they believe it is so important, in this time of difficult recruiting.

    If the parent cannot do that, why should we take anything else they say about the war seriously? Romney is effectively saying: sacrifice for thee, but not for me and mine.

    And yes, this would apply to Hillary as well, if she continued to support the war. If she couldn’t convince Chelsea to enlist, then it probably isn’t that important. However, Clinton is opposed to the current escalation and at least seems likely to draw down the number of troops in Iraq.

    (Not to conservatives: “Yes, but Hillary!” is probably not a compelling answer to criticisms of your candidates.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. [...] than link the story in the D/A or QCTimes, I”m linking a post from Outside The Beltway because it is more complete and includes the YouTube of the exchange. Of the two local accounts, [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. brainy435 says:

    “Mitt Romney has given what may be the dumbest answer ever by a presidential candidate.”

    So… you think this will set off riots in an allied country like Obama’s idiocy did?

    I think not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  21. [...] te steunen en hem helpen om Amerikaans president te worden. En dit was geen grapje. Letterlijk zei hij: “One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Grewgills says:

    So… you think this will set off riots in an allied country like Obama’s idiocy did?

    Care to provide a link to any story of these supposed riots set off by Obama’s remarks?
    No? Can’t?
    Maybe its because either you pulled it out of your a**, or whatever talk radio host you were listening to pulled it out of theirs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. [...] Toldjah Outside the Beltway GOP Bloggers Hugh Hewitt News [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Mitt Romney Watch: Post Ames Mitt Takes Some Heat…

    Republican Presidential Candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, August 11, 2007.
    After yesterday’s victory at the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa, Mitt Romney won an interview on Fox News …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  25. Jim T says:

    If Romney’s sons so strongly and patriotically support their father’s campaign, this would logically indicate they support his policies, which means they support the Iraq invasion, which means they would be personally willing to fight al-queda in Iraq, right, to help save the US from this dire threat? Wrong, let other people’s kids die instead. Turn up the A/C in the motorhome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1