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WILL AUDIENCES AT DEBATES SWAY VOTERS?

September 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The reaction of audiences at the upcoming political debates may prove to be as influential as comments made by the candidates themselves. A case in point may have become evident during Thursday night’s Republican debate when Stephen Hill, a brawny soldier serving in Iraq, asked the candidates, presumably in a satellite hookup or pretaped video, if they “plan to circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military.” Many in the audience booed the soldier. But when Sen. Rick Santorum replied that he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” his remark drew wild cheering. (Similarly at a Sept. 8 debate a questioner who asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry about the more than 200 executions that had been carried out in the state during his term in office was also applauded.) On the Mediaite.com website, left-leaning political columnist Tommy Christopher commented that it was “a bit surprising that none of Fox News’s moderators saw fit to react, to appeal to their collective sense of decency, and say, “You are booing an American soldier?”