WASHINGTON -- (AP/The Huffington Post) Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain says that he should not have stayed silent after the audience at a recent GOP debate booed a gay soldier.
The Georgia businessman told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that it would have been "appropriate" for him to have defended the soldier. None of the candidates at the Sept. 22 forum responded to the booing.
But Cain also suggested that the audience may not have actually been booing the soldier. "Maybe they were booing the whole 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal more so than booing that soldier," he told ABC's "This Week." "But we didn't know that. So that was not the time to try and decipher."
Cain's remarks came after President Barack Obama on Saturday chastised the GOP candidates, saying the nation's commander in chief should stand up for Americans in uniform.
The soldier was booed when he asked via a recorded video if any of the candidates would try to circumvent what he called progress for gays and lesbians in uniform.
At the annual Human Rights Campaign fundraising dinner in Washington, Obama strongly criticized the Republicans candidates for not speaking up. Obama told the 3,000 attendees:
We don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it's okay for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the president of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed. We don't believe in that.
We don't believe in standing silent when that happens. We don't believe in them being silent since. 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. We don't believe in a small America. We believe in a big America -- a tolerant America, a just America, an equal America -- that values the service of every patriot.
Cain wasn't the only Republican to take a more critical stance on the issue Sunday morning. When asked on CBS's "Face The Nation," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he thought the candidates should have spoken up after the booing. "It’s hard to react sometimes. But I’m sure… I would bet that every Republican on that stage did not agree with that kind of behavior," McCain said.
On CNN's "State of the Union," however, former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz took a more critical view of Obama's HRC speech.
"I'm a little bit leery of the notion that somehow we ought to go hammer the Republican candidates because they didn't respond to booing in the audience,” Dick Cheney said. "When you're in a political campaign and debates, you know, people boo a lot of things. And I'm not sure that it was all focused specifically on that particular issue."
Both Dick and Liz Cheney said that they thought Obama was right to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," but Liz said that Obama was trying to have it both ways in his speech Saturday night.
"I don't know where President Obama is on this issue and I suspect that there were a lot of people who were watching his speech in that room last night wondering whether they could believe what he was saying, frankly," Cheney said Sunday.
"His position on these issues hasn't been that different from where many of the Republican candidates are. He hasn't come out and advocated gay marriage, for example. I think this was sort of one more example where he's trying to have it both ways."
“When he speaks to that audience he tries to sound like he's, you know, some sort of a fighter and advocate for equality, but when he's trying to appeal to people who may not have that as their primary issue, he has got another position,” Cheney continued. “I thought it was pretty vintage Obama, frankly."