The claim by Hillary Clinton that she once tried to join the U.S. Marines when she was in her late 20s has prompted renewed skepticism in some quarters.
On several occasions (including earlier this month on the campaign trail in New Hampshire), in an apparent allusion to employment bias against women, the Democrat presidential frontrunner asserted that a Marine recruiter in Arkansas discouraged her from enlisting because of her age (26 or 27), gender, and poor vision.
By then, Hillary Clinton moved there with then-boyfriend Bill Clinton, who was embarking on a political career that would take him from the Little Rock governor’s mansion to the White House. They married in October 1975.
Jim Webb, a decorated Marine combat veteran who was one of Hillary Clinton’s election 2016 political rivals before he dropped out of the presidential sweepstakes, recently took to Twitter to question the story. Webb, a Naval Academy graduate, was Secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan.
“Mrs. Clinton disparaged integrity of [the Marine Corps], claiming wrongly turned away from serving. Tell us when, where & w/whom,” he tweeted.
During her 2008 presidential bid, Hillary Clinton separately recounted that she and her entourage, including daughter Chelsea, came under sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996. Later in the campaign, Clinton admitted that she “made a mistake” about the sniper incident and recanted, Reuters and other news outlets reported.
According to a New York Times article by Maureen Dowd penned in 1994, around the time the Marine claim first surfaced when the then-First Lady spoke at a Capitol Hill luncheon honoring women in the Armed Forces, the scenario doesn’t add up for the liberal, anti-war Yale Law School graduate.
“After all, Hillary Rodham was an up-and-coming legal star involved with an up-and-coming political star. She had made a celebrated appearance in Life magazine as an anti-establishment commencement speaker at Wellesley College, where, as president of the student government, she had organized teach-ins on her opposition to the Vietnam War… So, if she was talking to a Marine recruiter in 1975 before the marriage, was she briefly considering joining the few, the proud and the brave of the corps as an alternative to life with Mr. Clinton, who was already being widely touted as a sure thing for Arkansas Attorney General?”
Earlier this month, a Washington Post fact-checker gave the claim two Pinocchios, noting that women have served in the Marines since 1918, and in the mid 1970s, the U.S. military experienced a shortage of lawyers, which would have likely fast-tracked Hillary Clinton’s purported enlistment, according to recruiters.
“There are enough holes here that Clinton has an obligation to address the circumstances under which she approached the Marines, now that she had once again raised it in a campaign context,” the Post added.
Responding to the Post article, a Clinton campaign spokesman issued a statement about the alleged attempt to join the U.S. Marine Corps.
“As she has noted in the past, Hillary visited a Marine recruiter shortly after moving to Arkansas because she was interested in exploring options for serving in the military. She did not pursue the idea further and her sole reason for visiting the recruitment center was to determine if there was a suitable opportunity for her to serve in some capacity. Her interest was sincere and it is insulting, but not surprising, that Republicans would attack her for this, too.”
Quoting the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper, however, National Review similarly observed that a stint in the Marines would have been odd timing given Hillary Clinton’s career trajectory and connections at that point.
“At the time, the future first lady was 13 months into her job as an assistant professor of law at the [University of Arkansas]. She was also the director of the university’s Legal Aid Clinic. All this while she kept a private law practice. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton loomed as the odds-on favorite in the upcoming attorney general’s race.”
An ex-University of Arkansas colleague suggests that Hillary Clinton might have been conducting some kind of equal opportunity test at the recruiting station rather than actually trying to join the military.
Leaving aside whether a younger Hillary Clinton actually sat down with a Marine recruiter to discuss joining up, whether it is the result of the unanswered questions about the Benghazi terrorist attack while she was Secretary of State, or otherwise, a new Rasmussen poll suggests that potential commander in chief Hillary Clinton is deeply unpopular with both active duty and retired members of the U.S. military.
“[O]nly 15% have a favorable opinion of Clinton, with just three percent (3%) who view the former secretary of State Very Favorably. Clinton is seen unfavorably by 81%, including 69% who share a Very Unfavorable impression of her.”
Do you think it is plausible that Hillary Clinton tried to join the U.S. Marine Corps?
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]