Thursday, November 29, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Sen. John McCain said this morning that CNN should have made clear that a retired general who asked a question in last night’s Republican debate about homosexuals in the military works for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I think that should have been revealed,” the Arizona senator said. “I think that should have been made public if this individual was a member of another — any other campaign, then people would, obviously, have a better way of judging the quality of the question.”

Retired Brig. Gen. Keith H. Kerr was named a co-chairman of Mrs. Clinton’s National Military Veterans group this month, according to a campaign press release. He asked a question last night at the CNN-YouTube debate here, and after answers from candidates, debate host Anderson Cooper asked the general if he was satisfied with the answers.

The general then stood up and delivered what amounted to a two-minute speech, stopping only when the audience of 1,500 booed.

“American men and women in the military are professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians. For 42 years, I wore the army uniform on active duty, in the Reserve, and also for the state of California. I revealed I was a gay man after I retired,” the general said.

CNN later apologized. “We regret this, and apologize to the Republican candidates. We never would have used the general’s question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate,” said David Bohrman, a CNN senior vice president and producer of the debate.

Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said today that the retired general “is not a campaign employee and was not acting on behalf of the campaign.”

Mr. McCain also said today that “I’ve been told there were several others that were, quote, independent.”

That was a reference to the fact that some questioners are declared supporters of Democratic candidates. For instance, a woman who asked an abortion question has a YouTube profile in which she is wearing a John Edwards shirt. A man who asked about Log Cabin Republicans is also reportedly a Barack Obama supporter.

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