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Will the GOP Nominate a Veteran in 2012? Almost Certainly Not.

While working on something unrelated, I realized that none of the men and women currently being discussed as 2012 GOP challengers to President Barack Obama had served in the military. With the exception of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who was an Air Force surgeon and who most handicappers consider too old to make a new run in 2012, no one on the starting line-up has any military service. Either they got deferments during the Vietnam era or they were too young to serve.

Here’s a quick rundown, based mostly on Politics1′s excellent list. I didn’t include Dick Cheney (who did not serve) or Scott Brown (a Lieutenant Colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard), as their candidacies are pretty much the stuff of D.C. cocktail party chatter. And while Democrats tried (and failed) to make an issue out of George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service, 2012 will likely be the first year that the GOP’s nominee has no military experience whatsoever since it nominated Thomas Dewey in 1948.

Newt Gingrich: Born in 1943. During the Vietnam War he attended various schools; he received a deferment.

Mitt Romney: Born in 1947. During the Vietnam War he attended Stanford, then did missionary work in France, then got married and attended Brigham Young University. He also received a deferment.

Haley Barbour: Born in 1947. During the Vietnam War he attended the University of Mississippi, worked for Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign, ran the census in his state, and returned to Ole Miss for law school.

Mitch Daniels: Born in 1949. During the Vietnam War he attended Princeton and worked for then-Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar.

Gary Johnson: Born in 1953, and attended the University of New Mexico during the last years of the Vietnam War.

Mike Huckabee: Born in 1955, and was just reaching enlistment age when troops stopped heading to Vietnam.

Mike Pence: Born in 1959 and dived into radio broadcasting right after college.

Tim Pawlenty: Born in 1960.

John Thune: Born in 1961.

Sarah Palin: Born in 1964.

Bobby Jindal: Born in 1971.

I think all of this matters in two ways. In the primary, it means no GOPer has a natural base among veterans, who compose huge chunks of the electorate in the early states of South Carolina and Florida. In the general, it might complicate the effort to go after Obama on matters of national security.

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