Rick Santorum: ‘I Don’t Stay Awake At Night’ Worrying About The Jeering Of A Gay Soldier

Rick Santorum condemned “the people who booed that gay soldier” one day after the now infamous GOP presidential debate last month, telling Fox News, “That soldier is serving our country. I thank him for his service to our country. I’m sure he’s doing an excellent job. I hope he’s safe and I hope he returns safely and does his mission well.”

But Santorum — who remained silent as the audience jeered the openly gay soldier during a question about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — doesn’t appear to understand the full magnitude of the boos or the offense it may have caused to gay and lesbian servicemembers. Here is how he described the incident to Robin Obcarian of the LA Times:

The issue flared again in the last debate, when Santorum told Stephen Hill, a gay soldier, that he would reinstitute the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Critics knocked him for failing to chastise the audience members who booed at Hill, and for failing to thank Hill for his service.

“In a perfect world,” Santorum said, he would have thanked the soldier. “I don’t stay awake at night thinking about this.” As for the booing, he said he didn’t hear it.

Santorum, in other words, doesn’t see the reaction as a particular problem, so his apology for failing to speak out against the jeers at the debate is less than sincere. After all, Santorum did not mention the incident during his first appearance on Fox & Friends the morning after the debate (he actually said that soldiers will feel “uncomfortable” and “odd” around openly gay servicemembers) and didn’t condemn the jeering until that afternoon, after a day of criticism from media and conservatives.