Barack Obama tells the Republicans what they need to do in order to be a real Commander-in-Chief:
President Barack Obama criticized Republican presidential candidates Saturday for not defending a gay American soldier who was booed by the crowd at a Republican debate last week. “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,” Obama said during remarks at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Council, the nation’s largest gay rights organization.
Referencing the boos at the Sept. 22 Republican debate, he said: “We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens.” In his remarks before a supportive crowd of 3,200, Obama hailed the repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and urged the U.S. Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
But, as he has done in the past, Obama stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriages. He says his views on the subject are still evolving. Obama found an opportunity to attack his Republicans rivals indirectly. He has been seeking to rally his liberal base of support as he campaigns for re-election in November 2012 with his poll numbers down and Americans in general unhappy with his handling of the U.S. economy.
In Orlando, Florida, last week, the audience at a Republican presidential candidate debate booed after a U.S. soldier in Iraq, Stephen Hill, asked via video about the repeal of the 1993 law that banned gays from serving openly in the military.
Republican candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, among others, have said they would keep the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law in place. Obama drew a sharp line between Democrats and conservatives. “I don’t have to tell you there are those who don’t want to just stand in our way, they want to turn the clock back, who want to return to the days when gay people couldn’t serve the country openly, who reject the progress that we’ve made,” Obama said.
“We’re not about restricting rights and restricting opportunities. We’re about opening up rights and opening up opportunities,” he said.