The wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Thursday said that her husband and sons had not joined the U.S. military but had found "different ways of serving" by going on religious missions in France, England, Australia and Chile as part of their obligation to the Mormon church.
During an interview on ABC's The View, co-host Whoopi Goldberg asked Ann Romney how she would explain to the families of fallen soldiers why her husband and sons had not served their country.
"When I read about your husband, what I had read -- and maybe you can correct this -- is that the reason he didn't serve in Vietnam was because it was against the religion," Goldberg said.
"That's not correct," Ann Romney insisted. "He was serving his mission, and my five sons have also served missions. None served in the military, but I do have one son that feels that he's giving back to his country in a significant way where he is now a doctor and he is taking care of veterans."
"So, you know, we find different ways of serving," she added. "And my husband and my five boys did serve missions, did not serve in the military."
The candidate's wife explained that Mormon missions were like military service in that "you're going outside of yourself, you're working and you're helping others. And it changes you. And are we so grateful in this country for those people -- men and women -- that are volunteering, they're sacrificing their life for us, and we cannot forget that or we have to acknowledge that always."
"So, when you're facing these mothers whose children have not come back, how will you explain to them that your sons haven't gone?" Goldberg pressed. "Will you talk about the missions they've gone on?"
"I would say it's probably the hardest thing that a president and a first lady probably do is to comfort those that have lost a love one and have gone in harm's way," Ann Romney replied, not directly answering the question. "It is an amazing country, we have the most extraordinary fighting men and women, and we have to be so grateful for them. Of course, it's hard, and I don't think that any of us can understand the sacrifice [sic] that are being made by families."
Mitt Romney announced earlier this week that he had canceled his Thursday appearance on The View due to "scheduling problems."
In a secretly-recorded video released by Mother Jones last month, the former Massachusetts governor told wealthy donors that going on The View was a “high-risk” proposition because the “sharp-tongued” co-hosts were not conservative enough.
“Apparently the idea of sitting next to Whoopi Goldberg was just a little too intimidating,” media critic Howard Kurtz told Daily Download founder Lauren Ashburn. “Doesn’t this make Romney look like he’s avoiding a confrontation with the ladies of The View? He said he would go.”
“It opens him up to the argument that, how is he going to negotiate with Vladimir Putin if he’s afraid of sitting down with Whoopi Goldberg?” Kurtz continued. “When he agreed to go on, he was down in the polls. And now: Bye, bye, Barbara.”
Watch this video from ABC's The View via Mediaite, broadcast Oct. 18, 2012.