The Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, gave Hillary Clinton two Pinocchios — a rating given for significant omissions and exaggerations — for an old story she repeated this week about the time she says she applied to the Marines in 1975.
Hillary Diane Rodham was a rising legal star at the time — and would soon marry future President Bill Clinton — when she claims she went to a Marine recruiting office in Arkansas to sign up for the Corps.
But a young recruiter rejected the 26-year-old, telling her that she was too old, but that the Army might take her.
“He looks at me and he goes, ‘Um, how old are you?’ And I said ‘Well, I’m 26, I’m going to be 27.’ And he goes, ‘Well, that’s kind of old for us,'” the recruiter told her, she said Tuesday.
“And then he says to me, ‘Maybe the dogs will take you,’ meaning the Army.”
Clinton has told the story in public only on several occasions, the first in 1994 when she was first lady.
But as The Daily Caller documented last week, the tale doesn’t add up.
And fact-checker Kessler — who the Clinton campaign often touts when he dings Republicans — seems to agree.
“But the circumstances are in question,” Kessler writes. “She pitches it as a matter of public service, but her friends suggest it was something different. So at this point Clinton’s story is worthy of Two Pinocchios, subject to change if more information becomes available.”
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was the first to voice skepticism over the story when Clinton told it in 1994. Dowd, a longtime Clinton critic, argued that it made little sense for an “up-and-coming legal star” who was planning to marry an “up-and-coming political star” to go off and join the Marines.
On top of that, both Rodham and Clinton had vehemently opposed the Vietnam War. Rodham had worked on the presidential campaigns of two anti-war Democrats, Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern. She had also moved to Arkansas — only shortly before allegedly attempting to join the service — in order to be near her future husband, who would soon become the state’s attorney general. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Hillary Claimed She Tried To Join The Marines In 1975, Or Was It The Army?)
In 1994, a reporter for The Post spoke to two of Clinton’s friends from Arkansas who suggested other motives besides patriotism for her attempt to join the military.
Both suggested that Clinton could have been conducting a test of the recruiter’s response to a female applicant.
Conducting such a test “would have been consistent with what was going on with us at the time,” Ann Henry, a former business professor at the University of Arkansas, told The Post then.
“Is it possible she was testing?” Clinton’s friend, Diane Blair asked. “I don’t remember if she was seriously exploring a career, or was moved by curiosity, or patriotism or feminism. I wish I had kept notes.”
Henry, now retired, provided more context to Kessler supporting the theory that Clinton’s attempted sign-up was a feminist project.
She said she recalls discussing the tests and that conversations grew out of Arkansas’ Commission on the Status of Women. That organization was created in 1971 and chaired by Diane Blair.
“Clinton suggests she simply decided to join the Marines, as part of way to serve the country,” Kessler writes. “But it makes more sense that she approached the Marines as part of a deliberate effort to test the boundaries available to women.”
Then there’s a statement Bill Clinton made in 2008.
“I remember when we were young, right out of law school, she went down and tried to join the Army and they said ‘Your eyes are so bad, nobody will take you,'” Clinton recalled, never mentioning the Marines.
CNN asked Clinton’s campaign for more detail about the candidate’s attempt to join the Marines. The campaign declined comment.
Clinton has been caught fabricating stories in the past in order to bolster her public image. In March 2008, she said at a campaign event that she had come under sniper fire while visiting Bosnia as first lady in 1996. She retracted that claim when video emerged showing her on a Bosnian tarmac under no duress.
Clinton also recently repeated a story about the time she worked at a fishery in Alaska in 1969. She’s told different versions of that one as well. In the past, she has said that she was fired from the job after she complained to the boss that the fish she was gutting looked like they were rotten. She told the story to portray herself as a fighter always looking to do what’s right.
But when Clinton told the story this summer, she said that she wasn’t fired. She did complain to her boss about the state of the fish. But she lost the job after she showed up to work one day to find that the fishery had closed down. (RELATED: Hillary Tells A Fishy Story About Being ‘Fired’ From A Summer Job In Alaska)