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Johnson “Embarrased” By Booing of American Soldier, Other Candidates Refuse To Comment

Jim Burroway

September 24th, 2011

ABC News’ Emily Friedman rounds up the reactions of GOP presidential candidates to the booing by audience members of Stephen Hill, a gay American Soldier stationed in Iraq, who asked about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during Thursday night’s debate. On the night of the debate, Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. said he heard the booing and thought it was “unfortunate.” He later added, “We all wear the same uniform in America. We all salute the same flag I have two boys starting their journey in the U.S military. We should take more time to thank them for their services as opposed to finding differences based on background or orientation.”

After one news cycle passed, Sen. Rick Santorum claimed that he didn’t hear the booing (which was loud enough to actually create an echo in the vast hall in Orlando), and said he should have thanked the soldier for his service. At least that’s what he told Fox News. When speaking to ABC News, Santorum walked it backed a little.

“I didn’t hear it. I didn’t hear the boos,” Santorum told ABC News. “I heard the question and answered the question, so I’ve heard subsequently that happened. I’ve heard varied reports about whether they were booing the soldier or the policy.”

“I don’t know what they were booing,” he said. “If you can go out and find the people who were booing and find out if they were booing because a man was gay or because of a policy they don’t agree with.”

“You find out why they booed, and I’ll respond to your question,” he added.

Today, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said he was embarrassed by the episode:

“That’s not the Republican Party that I belong to,” said Johnson. “I’m embarrassed by someone who serves in the military and can’t express their sexuality. I am representing the Republican Party that is tolerant. And to me that shows an intolerance that I’m not a part of in any way whatsoever. ”

Johnson added that he could hear the boos from the stage and believes that the other candidates – despite Santorum’s denial – could as well.

That’s a second candidate who admitted he could hear the boos from the stage. Yet none of the nine candidates spoke up against the demonstrated disrepsect of an active-duty soldier stationed in Iraq, and none of them engaged in the time-honored Republican tradition of shoving each other out of the way in the race to thank that soldier for his service to the country.

And for six of those candidates, that silence continues through day three. Pizzaman Herman Cain refused to comment saying he didn’t want his comments “taken out of context.” Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s spokesperson refused to comment, as did the campaigns for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.



September 24th, 2011 | LINK

This shit makes me embarrassed that I ever voted Republican in the first place.

September 24th, 2011 | LINK

These debates are a good indication of just who would be Presidential in manner and speech and be a leader of one of the most potent militaries in the world. That means: A leader of everyone in the US armed forces. Which has included gays and lesbians regardless of DADT.

September 24th, 2011 | LINK

I hate to break it to you Mr. Johnson but that most certainly is the Republican Party you belong to and you were VERY aware of the party you belong to when you stood there in silence.

Timothy (TRiG)
September 24th, 2011 | LINK

I suppose if people don’t want to accept gay people in the military they’ll spout all kinds of rationalisations.


September 24th, 2011 | LINK

Trig, this is off topic but it’s important to me to let you know that I responded to your misinformed statement about Buddhism and homosexuality on another thread.

Ned Flaherty
September 25th, 2011 | LINK

Here’s a side-by-side comparison showing exactly what 13 presidential candidates now plan on DADT, equal pay for military personnel, DOMA, and related issues:

September 25th, 2011 | LINK

They all sat there, said nothing and lied and said they didn’t hear anything. This is the caliber of people that are running the country. No wonder we’re in trouble.

September 25th, 2011 | LINK

It strikes me that the so-called “front runners” are terrified of their base. Or maybe it’s just pandering writ large. (Although I think it amounts to the same thing at this point.) At any rate, anyone who can’t do something as simple as thank an active-duty serviceman for his service to his country is not fit to be president of anything.

Lindoro Almaviva
September 25th, 2011 | LINK

I would love to produce the campaign add for this one:

(Cue the question and the booing)

Cue the footage of the candidate (whomever it is) from that moment

And a voice is heard:

while a soldier was speaking booing could be heard on the stage. What did [insert candidate name here] do? Nothing, as a matter of fact, (s)he refused to speak for the soldier for several days, even when given the opportunity top do so. When asked to make a statement, the same thing: nothing… Is this the president you want for America? One that does nothing?

Cue more footage of the booing, and if there is footage of the candidate in stony silence while hearing the booing, even better.

September 25th, 2011 | LINK

“That’s not the Republican Party that I belong to,” said Johnson…”I am representing the Republican Party that is tolerant.”

Evidently Johnson must belong to a different Republican Party. How can a political party that appears to be anti everything, except no taxes for the rich, be termed as tolerant? This is the party that would rather try to destroy a President than do what is best for the country and its people. “Tolerant” is definitely not a word I would ever use in regards to the Republican party.

J. Peron
September 25th, 2011 | LINK

What I don’t get are the people who attack Johnson? Here is a gay who is accepting and open and doesn’t scapegoat gays but attacks those who do, and we have people on “our side” who attack him. Exactly how stupid is that?

When Gary said “I am representing the Republican Party that is tolerant,” what he means is obvious except to those who stereotype, and just have to attack and insult. He means that he represents Republicans who are tolerant and accepting and who don’t think gay people are evil.

Some rabid Democrats may hate the idea, but about 25% of Republicans, according to polls, want marriage equality. A majority wanted DADT abolished. The Religious Right may dominate the party, the way they used to dominate the Democrats (remember the “Solid South” was solidly Democratic and solidly racist, but there is a wing of Republicans who hate that. Instead of attacking people who represent that wing, which is about the most self-defeating thing possible, those people should be embraced.

But we have gay Democrats who are happy to treat Johnson worse than they would Santorum. Why? Because Santorum represents the hate they want to see in the Republican. Johnson represents exactly what they don’t want to see: an open, accepting party. And they are putting their political party ahead of the gay community.

BTW: I have voted for just one Republican in my life. I have meet Gary and discussed gay rights with him. If he got the nomination (which I doubt will happen) then I would vote for him immediately, and no one else. I’m glad he is there because it is people like him who have to change the GOP.

Timothy Kincaid
September 26th, 2011 | LINK

Oddly enough, this really is progress.

We have two candidates who found it “unfortunate” or “embarrassing” and who expressed opinions that suggest that a soldier not be viewed in terms of their sexuality (a position inconsistent with DADT).

We have one candidate who a noted homophobe who is flailing about over the issue and whose anti-gay animus is hurting him within the Republican Party. (Even if some share his animus, they see it as a liability to a candidate).

And we have six who are terrified of the issue.

It isn’t that long ago that booing a person simply for being gay would have been acceptable within Republican ranks. So, regardless of how pathetic it is, it’s improvement.

Timothy Kincaid
September 26th, 2011 | LINK


It is sad, but there are those within our community who are hindered by their perspectives. Just like many anti-gay people, they can only think in terms of “us” and “them” and so in their minds, a “Republican” has a specific race, age, gender, and viewpoint. Stereotypes not only drive but define their thinking. Rather than be angry, let’s pity those who are so limited intellectually.

Fortunately, most BTB readers are a bit more mature and nuanced than that.

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