WASHINGTON -- Appearing on ABC's "The View," Vice President Joseph Biden said it was "reprehensible" for members of the audience at the most recent Republican presidential debate to boo a soldier simply because he was openly gay.
"I did have a visceral response to it," Biden said. "I'm not sure if it's because my son spent a year in Iraq. And I know my sons and all the kids with them -- kids, they're grown men -- I don't think they give a damn whether the guy firing a rifle to protect them is gay or straight. I don't think they care about that. Look this kid risked his life. This kid is there for them. And I, quite frankly, I thought it was reprehensible."
Biden, notably, didn't needle the Republican presidential candidates themselves for the episode. When it was noted that none of those candidates spoke out about the booing at the time it happened, he sat there in uncharacteristic silence. But in bringing it up during the show, he joined President Obama in highlighting and elevating that specific moment.
"You've got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don't have health care and booing a service member in Iraq because they're gay," the president said during a fundraiser over the weekend.
"That's not reflective of who we are," he added. "This is a choice about the fundamental direction of our country. 2008 was an important direction. 2012 is a more important election."
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) -- to whom the gay soldier addressed his video question during last Thursday's debate -- said he couldn't hear the boos that the question engendered. Later, he insisted that had he heard them, he would have denounced the hecklers and thanked the member for his service.
That may absolve the senator. But the histrionics of a small minority of the GOP debate crowd -- cheering over executions, endorsing letting an uninsured patient die and booing a gay soldier -- continues to present a lasting problem for a Republican Party struggling to come off as inclusive.