Democratic Senate candidate Stephen Pagliuca says he misspoke and does not support reinstating a military draft.
The would-be successor to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said during a radio debate Thursday that reinstating the draft was a good way to ensure equality in providing national security.
"I don't think I'd support a civil service requirement," Pagliuca said, "I'd promote a civil service requirement."
But two hours later, he issued a statement saying he misheard the question and thought he was being asked about a draft in a case of national emergency.
He says he does not support a non-emergency draft. That was the same answer given by two of his Democratic rivals, Rep. Michael Capuano and City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, and alluded to by a third, Attorney General Martha Coakley.
"I will never support a draft, having been a child of the '60s and '70s," Capuano said. "I saw what the draft did to the poor and less fortunate of this country. They sent them to war and left the rich people at home."
Instead, Capuano said he favored a mandatory one-year term of national service, in which people could choose either military or civilian work.
Attorney General Martha Coakley did not directly answer the question but said she wants the all-volunteer army funded better.
"People choose these services, and I think one of the great things about this is the men and women who are serving, who are going overseas, they're not complaining about this," Coakley said. "Their morale is great."
City Year co-founder Alan Khazei said he opposes reinstating the draft, but favors more funding for volunteer services such as the one he started and AmeriCorps, which was authorized to grow up to 250,000 people in one of Kennedy's final legislative acts.
"You don't need to force people; you just need to fund it," Khazei said. "There are more than 250,000 people who would do this."
He also said the country should have imposed a "patriot tax" to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"The rest of us should have skin in the game, and we should be paying for it and not passing it on to our children and grandchildren," Khazei said.
Kennedy died Aug. 25 of brain cancer. Supporting a draft would have riskeed the support of his longtime liberal supporters.
Turnout is expected to be low and Pagliuca has already faced questions about his dedication to Democratic causes. He donated to Republican Mitt Romney during his 1994 race against Kenndy, as well as other GOP candidates.
Pagliuca has said he supported Romney — his former boss — out of personal friendship, and federal records show he has donated more to Democratic causes than Republican ones through the years.
Elsewhere during the debate, the candidates had a sharp disagreement about whether Sen. John Kerry should have inserted $20 million in a defense appropriation bill to support the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. The institution is planned for a site next to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum.
They also jabbed over whether abortion-funding restrictions should be allowed in a final health care overhaul, whether more U.S. troops should be sent to Afghanistan and whether the University of Massachusetts-Amherst should have blocked a convicted terrorist from speaking to students.
This program aired on November 12, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.