Does military service matter in politics?

From George Washington to Ike Eisenhower to Theodore Roosevelt, many American elected officials have served in their nation's armed forces.

But is NOT having served an issue to voters? Look how it plays out in the governor's race...


SOURCE: Lynn Bartels, the Denver Post

One of the loudest cheers at the Republican state assembly this year came when gubernatorial hopeful Mike Kopp talked about his service in the Army, jumping out of airplanes in the middle of the night.

"Surrender is not a Ranger word and it's not a conservative word," the former state senator said.

Kopp and Secretary of State Scott Gessler are the only Republican candidates for governor who have served in the military. Kopp fought in the first Gulf War and often talks of his military experience on the campaign trail. Gessler, who spent five months in Bosnia, mentions he was in the Army but talks more about what he sees as his accomplishments as secretary of state.

The other two GOP contenders for governor, former congressmen Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo, received school and then medical deferments during the Vietnam War era. Their military records were criticized in earlier campaigns, yet this far into the Republican primary contest, with the end of voting June 24, the race for the party's nominee for governor has been mostly silent on military service.

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