‘You can’t trust him,’ gay vet says after exchange with Romney in N.H.
By Philip Rucker,
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Mitt Romney got into a rare heated confrontation with a gay veteran at a diner here Monday morning that concluded with the 63-year-old man telling reporters: “You can’t trust him.” BRIAN SNYDER REUTERS
The exchange began when the GOP presidential candidate stopped at Chez Vachon in Manchester. Romney was in the restaurant campaigning with Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who officially endorsed Romney here Monday.
While working the room, Romney spotted a man in a flannel shirt wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat and slid in next to him in a booth.
“Vietnam veteran!” Romney greeted Bob Garon.
“I have a question for you,” Garon told the former Massachusetts governor. “New Hampshire right now has some legislation kicking around about a repeal for the same-sex marriage. And all I need is a yes or a no. Do you support the repeal?”
“I support the repeal of the New Hampshire law,” Romney said. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s my view.”
Garon, who lives in Epsom, N.H., and was eating breakfast with his husband, turned to Romney and said: “If two men get married, apparently a veteran’s spouse would not be entitled to any burial benefits or medical benefits or anything that the serviceman has devoted his time and effort to his country, and you just don’t support equality in terms of same-sex marriage?”
“I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney replied, adding, “and we apparently disagree.”
At that, a Romney aide called for him to wrap up the conversation: “Governor, we’ve got to get on with Fox News right now.”
“Oh, I guess the question was too hot,” Garon told Romney.
“No, I gave you the answer,” Romney replied. “You said you had a yes-or-no [question]. I gave you the answer.”
“You did,” Garon said. “And I appreciate your answer. And you know, I also learned something, and New Hampshire is right: You have to look a man in the eye to get a good answer. And you know what, governor? Good luck…. You’re going to need it.”
“You are right about that,” Romney said, as he stood up from the booth and headed into a side room for his interview.
Reporters swarmed around Garon’s booth at Chez Vachon, where he and his newlywed husband eat breakfast almost every day. Garon, who says he’s an independent voter in New Hampshire, said he would not support Romney in the Jan. 10 primary.
“I was undecided,” Garon said. But “I’m totally convinced today that he’s not going to be my president -- at least in my book. At least Obama will entertain the idea. This man is ‘no way, Jose.’ Well, take that ‘no way, Jose’ back to Massachusetts.”
Asked why he felt so strongly about Romney’s response, Garon said: “Because I’m gay, alright? And I happen to love a man just like you probably love your wife. Alright? And I think that he or she or whatever are entitled to the same rights that I have. I fought for my country, I did my thing, and I think that my spouse should be entitled to the same entitlements as if I was married to a woman. What the hell is the difference? I was definitely offended. He doesn’t even open the door to a conversation. It’s just a boom! But I did ask him ‘yes or no,’ so I got what I asked for.”
Garon said Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) was “the only one who tickles my fancy,” but that he’s “a little on the ‘hmmm…’ side. Come on, we all know what I mean… His age is a little on the rickety side because people think he’s a little crazy, but he’s not.”
Garon did say there’s one aspect of Romney’s candidacy he supports.
“I kind of liked his health care plan in Massachusetts,” Garon said. “Unfortunately – the press kinda bounced him around on that, and the Democrats [are] bouncing him around. But I think he did a good job in Massachusetts.”
But asked to assess Romney’s chances for the nomination, Garon said: “I did a little research on Mitt Romney and, by golly, you reporters are right. The guy ain’t going to make it.”
“Because you can’t trust him,” Garon said. “I just saw it in his eyes. I judge a man by his eyes.”