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Now we’re talking. Edwards throws down the draft gauntlet on Bush. (AP):

Vice presidential candidate John Edwards promised a West Virginia mother on Wednesday that if the Democratic ticket is elected in November the military draft would not be revived.

During a question-and-answer session, the mother of a 23-year-old who recently graduated from West Virginia University asked Edwards whether the draft would be reinstated.

“There will be no draft when John Kerry is president,” Edwards said, a statement that drew a standing ovation.

The current force is all-volunteer, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he opposes reinstating the draft. But the Pentagon has taken several steps that have drawn criticism.

In June, the Pentagon recalled to active duty 5,674 members of the Individual Ready Reserve, soldiers who have served specified tours of duty but have years remaining in their enlistment contracts.

Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, has complained about the extent of the Bush administration’s use of Reserves and National Guardsmen and a device called “stop loss,” which prevents soldiers from leaving when typical obligations end. “They have effectively used a stop-loss policy as a backdoor draft,” Kerry said.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding