President Obama should sleep well tonight. The more the Republican presidential candidates open their mouths at Thursday night's GOP presidential debate in Orlando, the more clear it is how out of touch they are with mainstream American voters. Tonight, there was no clear winner in the debate. The loser? Common sense and common decency. Here’s how I would sum it up:


Via a YouTube video, an active member of the United States military spoke about no longer having to hide his sexual orientation thanks to the lifting of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." A sizeable portion of the live audience in Orlando, Florida could be heard booing -- booing an active service member bravely defending our country!

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum responded by demeaning this honorable American, saying that gays in the military shouldn’t get “special privilege”--  failing to acknowledge that "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" was actually special punishment.

More than 8 in 10 Americans supported repealing the unfair restriction on gay men and women in the military. But Santorum offensively quipped that “sex has no place in the military” -- something that would come as quite a shock to heterosexuals in the armed forces, who are free to have whatever relationships they please. It was a shameful moment when an aspiring president failed to stand up for the most basic of human rights and some in the audience booed a member of our nation’s military.


There were too many to count.

No, Mr. Romney, the president did not go on an “apology tour.”

No, Mr. Perry, we do not have the highest corporate tax rate in the world -- in fact, we have one of the lowest.

No, Mr. Johnson, our nation is not bankrupt .

No, Mr. Cain, the health care reform law would in no way, shape or form ration your cancer care .

It’s one thing to make grand rhetorical statements to try and get attention in a crowded race. It’s another thing to flat out lie to the American people.


I love it when the Republican presidential candidates quote Ronald Reagan. After all, as conservative Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently put it, given the extremist influence of the Tea Party today, “Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican”.

Reagan raised taxes 11 times, supported unions, bailed out Social Security -- and granted amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants.

Perry, who like his doppelganger Bush is actually fairly pragmatic and humane when it comes to undocumented immigrants, was attacked for allowing kids who grew up their whole life in Texas to pay in-state tuition rates for state universities.

But during the immigrant bashing round of Thursday night's debate in Orlando (and for those of you thinking, “No, we’re just against illegal immigrants -- note the commercial that ran during one of the breaks, a conservative group advocating for a reduction in legal immigration to the United States), several candidates piled on suggesting that immigrants only come to America for the benefits -- not, er, jobs to feed their families -- and that we should stop giving immigrants even the most basic of benefits.

I was waiting for another “let them die” moment, suggesting we should even deny undocumented immigrants emergency access to hospital emergency rooms.

When Perry, the man who has executed 234 mostly guilty individuals, chirps up and accuses his compatriots of “not having a heart”, we should all take pause.

The good news is that the vast majority of Americans support the right of gay men and women to serve openly in the military and the vast majority of Americans support a path to citizenship for our nation’s undocumented immigrants.

Hopefully the vast majority of Americans can see through the candidates’ lies as well.

But unfortunately for our nation and our future, the leading candidates of a major political party are firmly out of touch with the majority of American people and reality.

Sally Kohn is a political commentator and grassroots strategist. Argue with her at http://twitter.com/sallykohn or http://movementvision.org.