July 20, 2004,
Today Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe launched an all-out attack on President George W. Bush's Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard. In a conference call with reporters, McAuliffe said the DNC is beginning an "ongoing effort" to address "a very important, continuing, unanswered question in this campaign: Where was George W. Bush during the Vietnam War?"
"At a time when national security is on the forefront of every American's mind, the American people deserve to know the truth about their president's military service," McAuliffe said.
Citing reports that some records of the president's service have been lost or destroyed, McAuliffe said, "Only one man knows about George W. Bush's military service, and he is not talking. That's why we're talking about this today."
McAuliffe said the DNC has created a new website to "bring extra pressure to bear so that we can learn the whole truth." The site includes a timeline comparing Bush's military service with that of Democratic candidate John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran. Under the heading "First Assignment," the chart says of Kerry, "Deployed to western Pacific to support operations in Vietnam." Of Bush, it says, "Houston, Texas where he enjoyed 'all-day water volleyball games.'" Under the heading "Request for Second Post," the chart says of Kerry, "Requests duty in Vietnam." Of Bush, it says, "Requests duty at postal unit in Alabama."
Earlier this year, the White House released hundreds of pages of records outlining in sometimes meticulous detail the president's nearly five-plus years in the Air National Guard. The records show that Bush served nearly two years of active-duty service in the Air National Guard, putting in hundreds of hours in flight school and in specialized training courses. The records also show that Bush spent an additional two years accumulating hundreds of hours of flight time, piling up credit points far beyond what was required of Air National Guard pilots. Finally, the records show that even when he stopped flying, Bush still met the minimum standards of service. (For a detailed report on the records, please see here.)
None of that information is in the Democratic version of the president's service.
McAuliffe accused Republicans of having made military service an issue in the campaign. He said "the president's men" have "continually tried to destroy and discredit John Kerry's military record.... We will not stand by and allow this to happen."
McAuliffe made clear that Kerry's military record will be on full display at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Boston. On the night Kerry addresses the convention, his crew mates from his Swift Boat days will be there, as well as Jim Rassman, who says Kerry saved his life during one engagement with the enemy. In addition, former Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, will introduce Kerry to the convention.