That former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney dodged the Vietnam War by spending three years in the South of France isn’t conjecture … it’s established fact.

Mind you, it’s not a fact that Romney is playing up as he fights for the Republican presidential nomination … but it’s a fact all the same.

Sort of like his prior support for socialized medicine and tax hikes.

Romney was whisked off to the south of France from July 1966 to February 1969 as a Mormon “minister of religion or divinity student.” Prior to and after receiving this religious deferment – which was obtained for him by the Mormon church – Romney also benefited from three years worth of student deferments.

Why are we talking about any of this? Well, during a recent presidential debate Romney offered Texas Gov. Rick Perry a $10,000 wager – an ill-advised move which made him look more like an out-of-touch dilettante than a decisive leader (something that’s been a problem for the multimillionaire in the past).

In an effort to combat this “Richie Rich” perception, Romney played up his time in France – where he says he experienced all sorts of privation (you know, unlike the thousands of Americans who went to Vietnam when their number was called).

“I lived in a way that people of lower-middle income in France lived,” Romney said, adding that his accommodations in France included no working shower or toilet.

“If we were lucky, we actually bought a hose and we stuck it on the sink … and wash(ed) ourselves that way,” Romney said.

Romney also claimed to have used a bucket for a toilet.

Is that really the case, though? Not according to The Daily Telegraph, which interviewed several individuals who were with Romney during this period of his life.

According to the paper, for at least a year of his stay in France Romney resided at a “19th century neoclassical building in the French capital’s chic 16th arrondissement,” a building with “stained glass windows, chandeliers, and an extensive art collection.”

And far from having to “shop before every meal” as he has claimed, Romney’s home featured “a Spanish chef called Pardo and a house boy, who prepared lunch and supper five days a week.”

“It was a house built by and for rich people,” one source told the paper. “I would describe it as a palace.”

Adding to the intrigue? The source said he had been contacted by Romney’s campaign and urged not to discuss what he knew of Romney’s “mission.”


Congrats, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley … you’ve sure picked a winner.

BOSTON GLOBE: Mormon church obtained draft deferrals for Romney, other missionaries
DAILY TELEGRAPH: Mitt Romney’s life as a poor Mormon missionary in France questioned

Pic: via Daily Telegraph