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  •   Colorado's Owens Admits Error in Draft Comment

    By Tom Kenworthy and Claudia Deane
    Monday, July 20, 1998; Page A11

    Bill Owens, regarded as the front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Colorado, stumbled over a draft deferment and spent the end of last week trying to recover his footing.

    After the Denver Post uncovered information contradicting Owens's claim that he had never had a student deferment during the Vietnam conflict, the 47-year-old state treasurer quickly admitted that he had erred but denied being deceptive. He had simply forgotten, Owens said, whether he had a high draft lottery number or a student deferment.

    "Because I didn't have to serve, it was never that big a deal in terms of the mechanics of it," said Owens, who participated in pro-war demonstrations as a college student. "It wasn't like I went before a draft board and sought the deferment. I had no reason to try to mislead anybody."

    Owens's competitors in the gubernatorial race – Republican and Democrat alike – criticized him and suggested it was unlikely anyone who lived through the Vietnam era would have forgotten how he avoided military service.

    "All of us in that age group, all of us who faced the draft or faced the war – regardless of the decisions we made – remember exactly what our personal situation was and the choices we made," said Democrat Mike Feeley, who enlisted in the Marines but did not serve in Vietnam.

    Owens faces state Senate President Tom Norton in the Aug. 11 GOP primary.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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