White House releases Bush's military payroll records
White House spokesman Scott McClellan holds up part of Bush's military payroll and personnel records.
President Bush's military service records are a hot topic of debate among Democratic presidential candidates. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports.
Nine months before the election, President Bush hits the road to defend his record on the economy. CNN's John King reports.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House released payroll records Tuesday it said demonstrate that President Bush fulfilled his obligations to the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s, hoping to defuse lingering election-year questions about the president's service.
"These documents make it very clear that the president of the United States fulfilled his duties," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "When you serve, you are paid for that service, and these documents outline the day he was paid."
But under questioning from reporters, McClellan said the records do not specifically show that Bush reported for Guard duty in Alabama, where he spent much of 1972 working on a Senate campaign. And he said the White House has been unable to locate anyone who remembers serving with Bush during that period.
However, McClellan said, "he was paid for the days he served in the Air National Guard. That's why I said that these records clearly document that the president fulfilled his duties."
The issue gained the spotlight recently when filmmaker Michael Moore referred to Bush as a "deserter" during a campaign rally for retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democratic candidate for president.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said the new documents are not conclusive.
"The handful of documents released today by the White House creates more questions than answers," he said in a written statement.
"The fact remains that there is still no evidence that George W. Bush showed up for duty as ordered while in Alabama. We also still do not know why the president's superiors filed a report saying they were unable to evaluate his performance for that year because he had not been present to be evaluated. That report was filed on the very day these documents allege he was reporting for duty."
Questions about whether Bush reported for duty 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.
Bush left the service in October 1973 to attend Harvard Business School, and was honorably discharged.
The White House also released previously seen records of Bush's "point summaries" from the Texas Air National Guard. And 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.
National Guard members earn points by attending regular assemblies, training and correspondence courses and being a member in good standing, according to the Army National Guard Web site.
McClellan said the payroll records were recently discovered at the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Colorado. He said Bush authorized the release of these records, as he first promised in a Sunday interview on NBC.
"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 White House correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report.