Political Animal


October 04, 2011 4:35 PM Romney still won’t stand up for Stephen Hill

By Steve Benen

On CBS’s “Face the Nation” a few days ago, host Bob Schieffer noted that Stephen Hill, an Army soldier currently serving in Iraq, was booed by some in the audience at a recent Republican debate. Schieffer asked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the leading opponent of DADT repeal last year, whether he believes the GOP presidential candidates should have spoken up. “Yeah. I do,” McCain said. “But … I would bet that every Republican on that stage did not agree with that kind of behavior.”

Well, not “every.”

Rick Santorum, soon after the debate, condemned the booing. Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson both said the audience’s reaction was unacceptable, and even Herman Cain expressed regret for not having spoken up at the time.

And then there’s Mitt Romney.

“I would tell you that in these debates there has been a lot of booing and a lot of applause. Cheering and booing,” Mr. Romney said Monday during a 70-minute interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, which was broadcast on CSPAN. “Now I have not made it my practice to scold the audience and say, ‘I disagree with this person. I agree with that person.’ Because it goes a lot of different directions.” […]

“You’d have to look at it,” he said. “I don’t know when they booed, and I don’t know why people booed. I will tell you that the boos and the applause has not always coincided with my own views.”

I’m curious, do even Mitt Romney’s most ardent backers actually respect this guy? Could anyone seriously make the case that he’s a man of personal courage?

This isn’t complicated. Stephen Hill is putting his life on the line for his country — for all of us — serving overseas. Because Hill is a gay man asking about DADT, some Republicans felt justified booing him. A third of the Republican field now believes that was wrong, as does John McCain, who led the charge to protect DADT from repeal.

Can Romney muster just enough strength to acknowledge the booing was wrong? Apparently not.

President Obama said the other day, “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.”

It appears Mitt Romney doesn’t do much of anything if it’s not politically convenient.

“To sit in silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • sick-n-effn-tired. on October 04, 2011 4:39 PM:

    Why would he ... can you say Proposition 8 California. The copious quantities of money the Utah Mormons poured into California got it passed It is against his religion.

  • stormskies on October 04, 2011 4:45 PM:

    can you say Preparation H for the Hemorrhoid In Chief ..

  • Quaker in a Basement on October 04, 2011 4:51 PM:

    To my ear, it sounded like two or three people booing. The credo in the blogosphere for such outbursts is, "Don't feed the troll." Why would it be any different for the candidates onstage?

    The answers the candidates gave to the soldier's question are far more important than whether they engaged a leather-lunged heckler.

  • r on October 04, 2011 4:51 PM:

    Look, I know it is necessary to Love the Troops in all cases or else we're pinko terrorists, but let's be honest -- no one in Iraq is risking their life for me. Nothing in Iraq is or was ever a threat to me.

  • Ron Byers on October 04, 2011 4:51 PM:

    Romney's response should be shouted from the rooftops. It utterly disqualifies him to be President of the US and I don't give a damn about anything else he might say the rest of this campaign. Any President has to have one quality above all others and that quality is moral courage. Romney has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a moral coward.

  • walt on October 04, 2011 4:52 PM:

    I seriously doubt Romney is an anti-gay bigot or even religiously observant. LDS is a folk religion and not particularly profound. It's a vehicle for fairy tales and anthropological speculations. Throw in some Christianity and it gets a patina of respectability.

    Romney is a businessman. If he was running for president of the Blue States, he'd be marching in gay pride parades. But he's not, and therefore he won't. Obama won't endorse gay marriage and everyone knows he's the embodiment of liberal cosmopolitanism. Romney tap-dancing around a gay issue, for that reason, is hardly newsworthy.

  • T2 on October 04, 2011 5:15 PM:

    Mitt is a pedigreed guy, with a famous Pol dad and millions of dollars (one might ask how they got millions when Dad was a career politician)...in his Dad's GOP, Mitt would be a perfect candidate. But those times are gone. There is NO QUESTION the GOP/TP is not interested in Mitt being the candidate. Hell, they picked a mean guy who everyone hates last time rather than Mitt.
    The GOP old line is facing facts.....they let the Tea Party take over and now they are stuck with crazy loons trying to be president. enjoy.

  • Rochester on October 04, 2011 5:25 PM:

    Mitt can't afford to alienate his base. What he hasn't realized yet is that his soul can't afford that kind of compromise.

    Which makes him a coward. Simple.

  • JR on October 04, 2011 5:32 PM:

    If I were Mitt, I'd be constantly scared of the question no one has dared ask him: During the Vietnam War, why did you spend two years of your life in service to your church (in Bordeaux, France!) but chose not to serve your country?

  • bleh on October 04, 2011 5:34 PM:

    "A spokesdroid released the following statement in response:

    'The Romneybot reiterates its previously adopted position, and no changes should be expected. This statement is, of course, subject to revision, should the Romneybot's algorithms so determine.' "

  • LJL on October 04, 2011 5:42 PM:

    Why would Romney stick up for Stephen Hill? Hill is an avowed homosexual and Romney is a super devout member of a militantly anti-homosexual church. Just do the math, one plus the other one equals one vicious homophobic candidate.

  • beejeez on October 04, 2011 6:59 PM:

    Sure, go ahead and rip Mitt a new one. Have fun with President Perry. Or President Bachman.

  • JW on October 04, 2011 7:10 PM:

    Mr. Waffle-- "The Clown Who Would Be President":

    "I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam."

    - Mitt Romney, Boston Globe, 6/24/07

    "I was not planning on signing up for the military. It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam."

    - Mitt Romney, Boston Herald, 5/2/94

  • Stephen Stralka on October 04, 2011 7:55 PM:

    If I was someone who really wanted Mitt Romney to be elected President, then I would want him to think about what he's going to do if this question comes up in a debate with Barack Obama. I would advise him that anti-gay bigotry is no longer the majority view in this country (thank God), and that it would be in his interest to get this issue out of the way now before it comes back to haunt him.

    But of course I don't want Mitt Romney to be elected President, so screw him.

  • ameziah on October 04, 2011 8:19 PM:

    Well, we've heard from Mitt Romney, but I'm waiting to hear what Mitt Romney has to say.

  • JW on October 04, 2011 8:55 PM:

    I, too, longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam. Certainly not all respects. Admittedly, the "getting shot at" respect was definitely off putting.

    However, I can assure you of this: if I had been there, we would have won!

    And that is not simply frustrating. It's particularly frustrating.

  • emjayay on October 04, 2011 9:54 PM:

    BTW, Mitt's father George was the president of American Motors, starting a year after the 1954 combo of Nash/Kelvinator (who made Ramblers) and Hudson that formed AMC. He had worked for Nash/Kelvinator from 1948. He became governor in 1962. So, not a career pol.

  • cwolf on October 04, 2011 9:56 PM:

    This isn�t complicated. Stephen Hill is putting his life on the line for his country � for all of us � serving overseas.

    Apparently it's too complicated for you.

    When you say "...for all of us..." you overlooked the fact that I am not in danger from anyone in Afghanistan or Iraq or Yemen or any wherever else Obamaco is sending his armies and dropping his bombs.

    The US is a terrorist nation and ALL its soldiers are terrorists. That will be so till it all ends.

    He is putting his life on the line for a different reason. More likely the reason is because his life sucks & he thought the military would be a way out of financial or other problems.

  • Marc on October 05, 2011 7:54 AM:

    Romney reminds me of Chance in "Being There". He is positioning himself to be anything people want to see in him.

    He will be nominated, and he might even be elected. Chance was.

  • max on October 05, 2011 9:39 AM:

    Romney is giving "empty suits" a bad name.