Democrats renew attack on Bush’s military record

Bush is embroiled in another controversy over his military record after the Democrats suggested that Mr Bush had an easy time in the National Guard.

The Democrats say that while their presidential challenger, John Kerry, fought in Vietnam, Mr Bush’s time in the Texas Air National Guard was marked by privileged treatment and unanswered questions.

Democratic campaign officials issued a list of questions on Bush’s record in the guard a day after Kerry hit back at Republican jibes over his Vietnam war decorations and his later anti-war activities.

“If George Bush wants to ask me questions about that through his surrogates, he owes America an explanation about whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard,” Kerry said in a television interview.

The White House later tried to play down Vice President Dick Cheney’s stinging broadside against Kerry which accused him of backing “irresponsible” cuts in arms spending and that he lacked the judgment to be commander-in-chief.

“No one is talking about the commendable record of service that Senator Kerry had during the Vietnam War. No one is questioning that,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

“The vice president was talking about policy differences on important issues.”

The Democratic allegations relied largely on press reports to suggest Bush not only avoided combat in Vietnam through enrolment in the National Guard but might have skipped part of that duty as well.

Among the questions raised by the Democrats was: “Bush has said he used no special treatment to get into the guard. How does he explain the fact that he jumped ahead of 150 applicants despite low pilot-aptitude scores?”

“Why did Bush specifically request to not be sent overseas for duty?” the Kerry camp asked.

“Why is the Pentagon under orders not to discuss Bush’s record with reporters?”

The Democrats also renewed questions about whether Bush shirked duty from May 1972 to May 1973, during which he worked on an unsuccessful US Senate campaign in the state of Alabama and received an early release to attend Harvard Business School.

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