Military service rare on candidates’ résumés
The much-maligned George McGovern, loser in one of the biggest landslides in presidential election history, was a World War II hero, flying 35 bombing missions and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross for an emergency landing that saved his crew.
The first President Bush was also a World War II vet, and Bob Dole’s right arm was permanently paralyzed after being hit by machine gun fire while serving in World War II. John McCain and John Kerry were Vietnam veterans, both Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale were in the Army, and Jimmy Carter was a Navy lieutenant.
To find an election when neither of the major party presidential candidates was a veteran, voters would have to go back to 1940.
And the last time neither of the major party presidential nor vice presidential candidates listed military service on their résumé was 1932 – 80 years ago – when Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Nance Garner ran against Herbert Hoover and Charles Curtis.
Whether that happens again in 2012 depends on whom Mitt Romney chooses as his running mate, but it appears likely: Of the eight candidates considered most likely to join Romney, only Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who attended Notre Dame on an Army ROTC scholarship, is a veteran.