Debate: Perry Enters National Scene, No Gay Talk

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com September 07 2011 10:45 PM ET

Despite Texas governor Rick Perry being thrown into the mix with other GOP candidates during Wednesday night's debate, there was no discussion of LGBT rights, marriage equality, or "don't ask, don't tell" and very little discussion of other social issues.

The debate started right off with prompted sparring about jobs and the economy between two top contenders, Perry and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. From there, each candidate piled onto Perry on several topics, including energy, health care, and immigration reform. Representatives Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann also took Perry to task for his executive order demanding that 12-year-old Texas girls be inoculated for HPV, a virus that can cause cervical cancer. Perry countered by saying he was attempting to reduce the number of people with cancer in his state, making a proactive move toward reducing people's reliance on government-funded health care.

During a discussion about entitlement programs, Perry also said that young people under 30 are contributing to a Social Security program that he likened to a "Ponzi scheme." Perry has used this language before, specifically in his book Fed Up! Romney attacked the governor on the statement, saying that the future president must be able to defend and reform Social Security.

While the issue of binational gay couples did not come up, the candidates were asked about immigration in a broader sense. Some candidates, like Bachmann, agreed that a fence would be ideal to line the border between Mexico and the United States, though Paul quipped that the same mentality could be used against the United States in the future.

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who earlier this summer blasted his opponents for being skeptical of scientists' statements on climate change and evolution, refused to name exactly which of his fellow Republicans were antiscience, when pressed by the moderators. He did, however, generally lament those who seemed to be overly skeptical of scientific findings that didn't gel with Republican ideals. 

"When you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call to question evolution, all I'm saying is that in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science," he said.

Amid the debate, former House speaker Newt Gingrich refused to allow the moderators, NBC's Brian Williams and Politico's John Harris, to make the Republicans seem divisive, pledging that they are "all committed to defeating Barack Obama."

Missing from the debate was gay Republican presidential hopeful Fred Karger, who tweeted during the live event, going after his competitors. He even took a dig at Bachmann's husband, Marcus Bachmann, calling him Lady Bird Bachmann.













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