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McCain Not Sure
on "LGBT" Issues

When a student at Concord High School asked John McCain if he would die or get Alzheimer's disease while in office because he of his age, the 71-year-old Arizona Senator took the question seriously at first, noting "I work 24/7, I'm very active, and people will judge by the rigor and enthusiasm of our campaign" Then, he added in a McCain-like touch. "And thanks for your question, you little jerk," McCain joked, as a crowd of a several hundred in a packed auditorium laughed. He paused, then added "you're drafted."

The candidate may have thought he had taken his most hostile question. But the high school students at Concord didn't seem to be suffering from any lack of enthusiasm or guts as they queried the presidential candidate in their midst. Another student asked McCain what he would do on "LGBT" issues and on "workers' rights?"

McCain, paused, confused by the question. Someone in the crowd shouted out "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender." "I had not heard that phrase before," McCain said of LGBT. (It's a mark of the different planets the candidates from the two parties live on that McCain said this. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have long lists of "LGBT" supporters they've sent to reporters across the country).

McCain then explained that while he opposed discrimination, he also felt marriage was between a man and a woman and noted he supported the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays in the military.The student, a junior named William Sleaster, then persisted, asking the candidate if he supported gay marriage or civil unions. McCain said "I do not." The student, standing at microphone across from the stage where McCain was speaking then declared "I came here to see a good leader. I do not."

The Senator seem surprised, but said he respected the student's views and his right to express them. "That's what America's about," McCain said. At the end of the hour long event, McCain came back to this point, looking at the student's direction and saying "we should be thankful" to live in a country where such frank discussions can happen.

--Perry Bacon Jr.

By Washington Post editors  |  September 4, 2007; 6:40 PM ET
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