Clinton got draft notice, aides confirm 23-year-old letter revives flap over military service

April 05, 1992

LITTE ROCK — LITTLE ROCK -- Bill Clinton's presidential campaign said last night that the governor received a draft induction notice in 1969 before he joined the ROTC program at the University of #i Arkansas.

The disclosure came one day after reports surfaced of a letter in which a Little Rock lawyer -- who said he was a friend of Mr. Clinton's in the '60s -- wrote to a man who is now a dean at Auburn University saying that Mr. Clinton had received a draft induction notice while he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England.

The lawyer now opposes Mr. Clinton politically, and the university professor also said he opposes Mr. Clinton's presidential candidacy.

The Associated Press queried the Clinton campaign about the letter Friday evening.

"Gov. Clinton recalls receiving an induction notice while at Oxford, in late April 1969," said a statement delivered to the Associated Press in Little Rock shortly after 10 p.m. EST yesterday.

"The notice had been sent by surface mail and arrived after the induction date. Gov. Clinton immediately sought guidance from his local draft board about the induction date that had passed.

"He asked whether he could finish his current term at Oxford," the statement continued.

"As was routine procedure, the request was granted and his induction was postponed. Gov. Clinton completed the spring term and returned to the United States in late June or early July."

The statement went on to say that Mr. Clinton then joined the ROTC program at the University of Arkansas.

Mr. Clinton has not denied receiving an induction notice but did not volunteer that he had received one in previous explanations of his draft status during the Vietnam War, which has been an issue in his campaign.

The letter that prompted the new questions about the way Mr. Clinton handled his draft status was addressed to Dean Leslie Campbell, Arts and Science, Auburn University, and was dated May 8, 1969, and signed by Cliff Jackson.

The last paragraph of the long letter, made available to the AP by Mr. Campbell reads in part:

"Hopefully, I do not face military service, since I am now classified 1-Y (I think I'm mentally defective!), but other Rhodes and Fulbrights are being regularly drafted out of Oxford. Bill Clinton, friend and Rhodes from Hot Springs, Ark., received his induction notice last week."

Asked yesterday whether he gave any credibility to the letter, Mr. Campbell said, "Yes, you can think of the possibilities.

"Either Jackson misunderstood, or Clinton told him this and he wasn't sure.

"But you have to give a lot of credibility to contemporary evidence," Mr. Campbell said in an interview before the Clinton campaign statement.

Mr. Campbell said this was "not just a casual reference, obviously."

"I doubt Gov. Clinton will be the candidate. One thing that began moving me away from him, then away from the party, [were] his deceitful replies to the allegations," Mr. Campbell said.

Mr. Jackson would not confirm or comment on the issue when he was reached by the AP Friday and again yesterday.

He is head of ARIAS, a conservative Arkansas group opposed to Mr. Clinton's candidacy.

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