The HillTube

Cain: Debate crowd might have been booing 'Don't ask' repeal, not gay soldier

A day after President Obama criticized Republican presidential candidates for not responding to audience members at a GOP debate booing a question from a gay solider, Herman Cain said Sunday that the crowd might have been booing the repeal of the controversial ban on openly gay soldiers serving in the military, not the soldier himself.

Cain, whom one poll last week showed in third place in the GOP presidential race after his victory in a Florida straw poll, said that it was "not the intent of anybody on that stage" to disrespect the soldier who questioned the candidates. 

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"Well, the thing that's being overlooked is that, in the heat of a debate, when you have exactly 60 seconds to answer any question, you know, taking that time to try and figure out why they were booing," he said during an interview on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

"I happen to think that maybe they were booing the whole "Don't ask, Don't tell" repeal more so than booing that soldier.  But we didn't know that," said Cain.

Cain did admit the moment could have been handled differently by the GOP candidates, saying "in retrospect because of the controversy and the different ways it was interrupted," he would have responded to the booing.


In a speech to the gay advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, in Washington Saturday night, Obama said the moment when the solider was booed in front of the GOP candidates was unbecoming of potential presidents.

"We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders — one of whom could end up being the President of the United States being silent when an American soldier is booed," Obama said in his HRC speech.

"You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient," he said.