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Clinton seeks votes from war veterans

Washington - In arguably his most awkward speech of the campaign thus far, Bill Clinton yesterday tried to explain to service veterans at the American Legion Convention in Chicago why he escaped the Vietnam draft, and to convince them of his qualifications to be commander-in-chief, and, if needs be, to send American troops into battle, writes Rupert Cornwell.

Mr Clinton said veterans had the right to vote against him because he had never served in the military. He admitted his relief when, while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he eventually drew a number that meant he would never be called up. 'I was relieved not because I didn't want to serve my country. But because I believed so strongly - and still believe - that our policy in Vietnam was wrong.' Arguing that lack of military experience should not disbar him, he cited previous presidents, from Lincoln to Roosevelt, who had been successful wartime leaders though they had never served.