(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama - locked in a tight presidential race against Sen. John McCain, widely considered a war hero - said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he once considered joining the military himself.
Speaking to ABC's "This Week," Obama said, "You know, I had to sign up for Selective Service when I graduated from high school. And I was growing up in Hawaii, and I have friends whose parents were in the military. There are a lot of Army, military bases there. And I actually always thought of the military as an enobling and, you know, honorable option.
"But keep in mind - I graduated in 1979. The Vietnam War had come to an end. We weren't engaged in an active military conflict at that point. And so, it's not an option that I ever decided to pursue."
On the stump, Obama has praised McCain for his service in the Vietnam war.
The two candidates' stark differences over the Iraq war mark one of the central issues of the campaign.
The McCain camp argues that McCain's experience has prepared him to serve as commander in chief and lead the United States through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said in her speech at last week's Republican National Convention that while Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, "have been going on lately about how they're always, quote, 'fighting for you,' let us face the matter squarely: There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you... in places where winning means survival and defeat means death."
In the "This Week" interview, Obama also expressed regret for how he handled a question about the Saddleback Civil Forum on Presidency last month.
At the time he said answering a question about when a baby gets human rights is "above my pay grade."
Asked by ABC whether that answer was "too flip," Obama answered, "Probably, yes." He added that as a Christian, "I have a lot of humility about understanding" when the soul enters into the body. "And so, all I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions."
"What I do know is that abortion is a moral issue, that it's one that families struggle with all the time, and that in wrestling with those issues, I don't think that the government criminalizing the choices that families make is the best answer for reducing abortions."
On a lighter note, "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos jokingly asked Obama whether he'd ever be willing to take on Palin in a game of one-on-one.
Both were avid basketball players in their school days, with Obama earning the name "Barry O'Bomber," and Palin nicknamed "Sarah Barracuda."
"You know, I would play her a game of horse. She looks like she's got some game," he said, adding, "I know she's a sharpshooter... I probably wouldn't do target practice with her. I think she'd be a better shot than me.
But on the basketball court, I think I'd stand up pretty well."
He agreed with host Stephanopoulos' suggestion that the game "would break all Nielsen records."