Amanda Carpenter

The YouTube/CNN debate that Republican presidential candidates tried to boycott proved as hostile as they feared last night in St. Petersburg, Florida.

CNN---sarcastically called the “Clinton News Network” -- allowed a member of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s gay steering committee to ask Republican candidates if military personnel were “professional” enough to work with gay troops. The question came from the gay retired brigadier general Keith Kerr.

The story quickly ended up on the Drudge Report with this post from Townhall editor Jonathan Garthwaite.

Not only was Kerr’s Youtube submission aired, but he was introduced to the candidates and the audience on television and given a long opportunity to follow-up. CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked Kerr, “Do you feel you got an answer to your question?”

Kerr replied, “With all due respect, I did not get an answer from the candidates.” Then, Kerr gave a small lecture: “American men and women in the military are professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians. For 42 years, I wore the army uniform on active duty, in the Reserve, and also for the state of California. I revealed I was a gay man after I retired. Today, ‘don't ask/don't tell’ is destructive to our military policy. Every day, the Department of Defense discharges two people, not for misconduct, not for the unit cohesion.”

CNN later apologized for the incident. "We regret this incident. CNN would not have used the general's question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidates,” said David Bohrman, CNN senior vice president and executive producer of the debate.

In a CNN interview on Thursday morning, Kerr denied he was used as a “plant” by the Clinton campaign at the Republican debate. He said he is only listed as a member of Clinton’s gay steering committee and his appearance was a “private initiative of my own.”

In the last CNN/YouTube Democratic debate that aired November 15, Hillary Clinton was asked if she prefers “diamonds or pearls” and other questions focused on so-called “mommy issues” like healthcare and education.

None of the Republican candidates were asked any questions about education, healthcare or energy policy.

Most of the questions, handpicked from user submissions by debate organizers, focused on issues that have caused rancor within the GOP, like illegal immigration, abortion and religion. One question asked the candidates if they believed “every word” contained in the Bible.

The lightest-hearted question of the night was the last one. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was asked why he rooted for the Red Sox in the last World Series.

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter is the author of “The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy's Dossier on Hillary Clinton,” published in October 2006.
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