Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson condemned the booing of a gay servicemember that occurred at Thursday night's Fox News/Google GOP debate, and he expressed regret for not speaking up at the time.
In an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC, the former New Mexico governor said the incident -- in which a gay soldier serving in Iraq was loudly booed -- was "not right" and not representative of the Republican party he belongs to.
"If I have one regret from last evening, it’s that I didn’t stand up and say, you know, you’re booing a U.S. serviceman who is denied being able to express his sexual preference," he said. "There’s something very, very wrong with that."
Johnson said he was "chomping at the bit" to respond to the audience, but he was reticent to speak out due to his exclusion from the recent debates. "I’m feeling a little bit like I’m walking on egg shells," he said.
He told Sharpton he believes the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which went into effect on Sept. 20, should have been done "a long time ago."
Sharpton asked Johnson about the unexpected outbursts from audience members that have characterized the last three Republican debates. At the Reagan Library debate on Sept. 7, the audience spontaneously applauded the mere mention of executions performed under the Texas governorship of Rick Perry. During the Sept. 12 CNN/Tea Party debate, Wolf Blitzer asked a hypothetical question about the fate of a sick, uninsured patient. "Are you saying society should just let him die?" Blitzer asked, provoking cheers of "Yeah!" from the audience.
Johnson, agreeing with Sharpton's description of the incidents as "ugly," called himself "the different voice in that debate." He said that he views the death penalty as "flawed public policy," and he argued in favor of caring for the sick, adding that "government perhaps is the only entity that's available" for the most needy. "Let him die? No, that’s not this country," he said. "We are a country of compassion. These are the people that we want to help."