THE RACE: Non-vets Obama and Romney court US vets

The race between President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney marks the first time since World War II that neither major-party candidate has had any military experience.

The president and his challenger both are making plays for veterans' support. Obama was speaking Monday to the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nev. Romney will appear before the same audience on Tuesday.

Obama came of age after both the Vietnam War and the draft had ended. He's said he once considered enlisting after high school, viewing the military as "an ennobling and honorable option," but didn't pursue it.

Romney initially received a deferment from the draft for Mormon missionary work he did in France for 2 1/2 years and later received a high number in the annual draft lottery and was never called.

Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower (as Supreme Allied Commander in World War II), John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush all served in either the active military or in the Army or Naval Reserve.

President Bill Clinton didn't, but his two opponents did - the first Bush and in 1996 Sen. Bob Dole, who was wounded in combat in Italy.

President George W. Bush served in the Texas National Guard, although there's some controversy lingers about his attendance record. His two opponents, Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry, both served in the military in Vietnam.

Obama's 2008 GOP rival Sen. John McCain was a Navy combat pilot in the Vietnam War held prisoner in North Vietnam for 5 1/2 years.

Wartime President Franklin D. Roosevelt wasn't in the military - but did serve as assistant Navy secretary in World War I.

Romney held a round table on Monday with small business leaders in Costa Mesa, Calif.


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