Excerpt from transcript of CNN Republican Presidential Debate
June 5, 2007
SPRADLING: Congressman Paul, a question for you.
Most of our closest allies, including Great Britain and Israel, allow gays
and lesbians to openly serve in the military. Is it time to end don’t
ask/don’t tell policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S.
PAUL: I think the current policy is a decent policy.
And the problem that we have with dealing with this subject is we see people
as groups, as they belong to certain groups and that they derive their
rights as belonging to groups.
We don’t get our rights because we’re gays or women or minorities. We get
our rights from our creator as individuals. So every individual should be
treated the same way.
So if there is homosexual behavior in the military that is disruptive, it
should be dealt with.
But if there’s heterosexual sexual behavior that is disruptive, it should be
So it isn’t the issue of homosexuality. It’s the concept and the
understanding of individual rights. If we understood that, we would not be dealing with
this very important problem.
BLITZER: Governor Huckabee, I want you to weigh in as well.
Do you believe it’s time to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the United
HUCKABEE: Wolf, I think it’s already covered by the Uniform Code of Military
Conduct. I think that’s what Congressman Paul was saying: It’s about
conduct; it’s not about attitude.
But I’d like to ask you. You said a moment ago that you were going to all
give us a chance to deal with the issue of immigration.
BLITZER: We’re going to come back to that.
HUCKABEE: And I hope you’ll do that.
BLITZER: We will. We’ll come back to immigration.
HUCKABEE: You held us to it, and now I want to hold you to it, so…
BLITZER: We’re going to come back…
HUCKABEE: … if you could give us that opportunity.
BLITZER: We’re going to come back to immigration.
But right now, we’re talking about allowing gays to serve openly in the
military. But you’re opposed to that?
HUCKABEE: I just said I think it’s a matter — it’s not — you don’t punish
people for their attitudes; you punish them if their behavior creates a
problem. And it’s already covered by the Uniform Code of Military Conduct.
BLITZER: So you wouldn’t change existing policy.
BLITZER: You wouldn’t change existing policy.
HUCKABEE: I don’t think that I would. I think it’s already covered by the
existing policy that we do have, in fact.
BLITZER: Mayor Giuliani, recently we’ve learned that several talented
trained linguists — Arabic speakers, Farsi speakers, Urdu speakers — trained by
the U.S. government to learn those languages to help us in the war on
terrorism, were dismissed from the military because they announced they were gays or
Is that, in your mind, appropriate?
GIULIANI: This is not the time to deal with disruptive issues like this.
Back in 1994 we went through this. And it created a tremendous amount of
disruption. Colin Powell, I think, was still the head of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff before he left at the beginning of the Clinton administration.
He came to the view that this was a good policy.
And I think in time of war, in a time where we’re trying to deal with this
transition to a new kind of warfare that we have to be fighting — and we
haven’t gotten all the way there yet. We need a hybrid army, we need to look at
nation-building as part of what we have to teach our military. I don’t think
this would be the right time to raise these issues.
BLITZER: Thank you.
GIULIANI: And I think we should rely on the judgment of our commanders in a
situation like this. They know what’s disruptive and what’s not. And at a
time of war, you don’t make fundamental changes like this.
BLITZER: Thank you, Mayor.
Governor Romney, the mayor referred to the don’t ask/don’t tell policy,
which was implemented during the Clinton administration, after Bill Clinton
In 1994, you were quoted as saying that you advocated gays being able to
serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military.
The question to you is, do you still feel that way?
ROMNEY: No, actually when I first heard of the don’t ask/don’t tell policy I
thought it sounded awfully silly and didn’t think that’d be very effective,
and I turned out to be wrong.
It’s been the policy now in the military for, what, 10, 15 years? And it
seems to be working.
And I agree with what Mayor Giuliani said, that this is not the time to put
in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on.
I wouldn’t change it at this point. We can look at it down the road. But it
does seem to me that we have much bigger issues as a nation that we ought to
be talking about than that policy right now.
BLITZER: Senator McCain, you’ve been involved in military matters virtually
your whole life. What do you say?
MCCAIN: We have the best-trained, most professional, best- equipped, most
efficient, most wonderful military in the history of this country. And I’m
proud of every one of them.
There just aren’t enough of them. So I have to rely on our military
leadership, in whom we place the responsibility to lead these brave young Americans
in combat as we speak.
So I think it would be a terrific mistake to even reopen the issue. It is
working, my friends. The policy is working.
And I am convinced that that’s the way we can maintain this greatest
military. As much as I revere the greatest generation, as much as I love my own
generation, this is the very best. Let’s not tamper with them.
BLITZER: Is there anyone here who believes gays and lesbians should be
allowed to serve openly in the United States military?
If you do, speak up now.
I don’t understand why discrimination is still permitted. I don’t understand why harrassmentÂ of gays in the military is permitted even though it is expressly forbidden by the DADT policy.
For more information on DADT .