Portsmouth, NH (CNSNews.com) - Vice President Al Gore has back peddled on his statement that he would require candidates for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to agree with his view that homosexuals serve openly in the military.
Gore made the statement during a Wednesday night debate, with challenger Bill Bradley, held on the campus of the University of New Hampshire. The statement drew fire from military brass, as well as his own supporters, including Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who campaigned Friday for the vice president, in this ocean front city.
Bradley had a similar response, when the two were asked if agreeing to allow gays to serve openly would be a litmus test they would require of nominees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "I would insist before appointing anyone to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that that individual support my policy and yes, I would make that a requirement."
During a Friday appearance in Des Moines, Iowa, Gore appeared to soft pedal his New Hampshire assertion, saying, "What I meant to convey was I would not tolerate, nor would any commander in chief, nor would any president tolerate, orders not being followed."
Gore's attempt at clarification resulted in a virtually identical statement made by Bradley, during the New Hampshire debate, when he declared a litmus test was not needed, because he would expect military officers to automatically follow the orders of the commander in chief, whether or not they agreed.
Meeting with a group of veterans, at a local restaurant Kerry, a decorated Viet Nam war veteran, discussed the gays in the military controversy. He said that he tends to support the open service of homosexuals, but added there are circumstances under which commanding officers should have the option of removing them from a unit, as part of their ability to make command judgments.
The senator noted it will take time to integrate homosexuals into the military services, much as it took time to integrate minorities and said he doesn't believe Gore wants to require military personnel to agree with his policy before they can be appointed, but only that they follow the orders of the commander in chief.