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Inside Politics

Bush military dental record released

George W. Bush sits in an F-102 fighter jet while serving in the Texas Air National Guard in an undated file photo.
George W. Bush sits in an F-102 fighter jet while serving in the Texas Air National Guard in an undated file photo.

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President Bush's military service records are a hot topic of debate.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House released a military dental examination record for President Bush, claiming the document proves the president was at the base where he was to carry out his service in the Air National Guard.

Bush's dental record -- released Wednesday night -- says Bush received an exam at the Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Alabama on January 6, 1973.

"As has previously been documented and reported, the president was performing equivalent duty with the 187th Tactical Recon Group in a non-flying status," the White House said in a statement.

Questions have surfaced over whether Bush performed his duties during a period from May 1972 to May 1973 when he was transferred from his Air National Guard training in Texas to Alabama so he could work on a Senate political campaign.

Questions have lingered since the 2000 presidential campaign, when the Boston Globe uncovered a May 1973 evaluation by Bush's commander stating that the then-first lieutenant had not been seen during the previous year.

The report stated Bush had been performing "equivalent training" at a Guard unit in Montgomery, Alabama. But the man who was that unit's commander at the time has said he does not recall Bush reporting for duty.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said of the dental record: "This again shows he was there, he served in Alabama. He was honorably discharged."

McClellan said the White House received Bush's dental and medical records from 1968-1973 from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado. The medical records were not released.

Accompanying the records was a statement from the president's current physician, Dr. Richard J. Tubb, who said the records show that Bush was fit to serve.

Tubb said he agreed with the "examining doctors and dentists that the president was fit for entry into officer training school, fit for undergraduate pilot training and fit for continued flying duties through his last annual flight physical, which expired on July 6, 1972. The records reflect no disqualifying medical information."

The Democratic National Committee expressed doubt that the additional records meant much of anything.

"There's still more questions than answers. It's around his service," one DNC official said. "There is no record of it. There are discrepancies from the documents that don't explain why his superior officers didn't see him in Alabama.

"None of his commanding officers said he hadn't received dental care, but that they hadn't seen him report for duty."

The DNC official added, "It is unusual that the records both before and after Alabama are incredibly detailed. But during this period they are spotty at best."

In a White House briefing Wednesday, McClellan repeated his claim that critics were just "trolling for trash for political gain," and were engaged in "gutter politics."

On Tuesday, the White House released payroll records that it said demonstrate that Bush fulfilled his obligations to the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s.

But under questioning from reporters, McClellan acknowledged the records do not specifically show that Bush reported for Air National Guard duty in Alabama, where he was working on the Senate campaign.

And McClellan said the White House has been unable to locate anyone who remembers serving with Bush during that period.

The issue gained the spotlight recently when filmmaker Michael Moore referred to Bush as a "deserter" during a campaign rally for retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who announced he was dropping out of the Democratic race for the presidential nomination on Wednesday.

Bush graduated from Yale University in 1968 -- at the height of the Vietnam War -- and joined the Texas Air National Guard shortly after.

Bush left the Air National Guard in October 1973, eight months before his six-year military obligation was up in May 1974, and was honorably discharged.

When he was asked about his early release during an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Bush said, "I was going to Harvard Business School and worked it out with the military."

The White House also released previously seen records of Bush's "point summaries" from the Texas Air National Guard.

White House officials released a letter from former Texas Air National Guard personnel director Albert Lloyd stating the president had the required number of "points" for the year in question.

The records indicate Bush received points toward service in October and November 1972 and in January, April and May 1973, and that he drilled extensively in June and July of that year.

McClellan said the payroll records were recently discovered at the Air Reserve Personnel Center. He said Bush authorized the release of these records, as he first promised in the NBC interview.

"We were not aware that this information existed, during the campaign, on the payroll records," said McClellan, who said the personnel center sent the information voluntarily.

With the release of these records, the president's advisers are hoping to stop the issue from gaining steam and potentially shade what Bush advisers see as a major asset this election year -- his stewardship as commander in chief.

"I think there are some that we are now seeing are not interested in the facts," McClellan said. "What they are interested in is trying to twist the facts for partisan political advantage in an election year, and that's unfortunate."

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, John King and Dana Bash contributed to this report.


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