Maybe men watch for the swimsuits and women watch for the evening gown — but surely we all watch Miss USA for the on-stage interviews. Some pundits are expressing shock this morning that Miss Utah Marissa Powell placed as high as 3rd runner-up after her stumbling answer (see also: A pageant coach explains the dreaded brain-freeze: “You can’t ever recreate the pressure of that moment, the lights and the people”), but was it measurably worse than the others? You decide! Here are the questions fielded by the top six finalists at the Trump-owned pageant last night and the answers that may have helped judges decide how to place them. (See also: Miss USA crown goes to 25-year-old Connecticut accountant)


Miss South Carolina Megan Pinckney (Richard Harbaugh / Getty Images) (Richard Harbaugh / Getty Images)

South Carolina Megan Pinckney (5th runner-up)

Question from judge Christina Milian, the pop star: “Should people who leak classified documents in the name of public information be charged with treason? Why or why not?”

Miss S.C.: “I don’t believe that they should be charged with treason. Personally I think that being a part of this country we have been given specific documents for specific reasons. Our lawmakers have put that into their decisions for certain reasons. And if we feel the need to have to show those documents, then I think we should show them.”


(Jeff Bottari / AP) (Jeff Bottari / AP)

Miss Texas Ali Nugent (4th runner-up)

Question from judge Betsey Johnson, the designer: “In a recent beauty pageant bikinis were banned amid protests from religious groups. As someone who competed in a swimsuit tonight, do you believe such groups should have that influence? Why or why not?” [Johnson was alluding to the rival Miss World pageant, which banned bikinis under pressure from hard-line Muslim groups in the host country of Indonesia.]

Miss Texas: “I think we live in a country where we have freedoms that people around the world don’t. And we have the ability to vote for things we agree with and vote against things we don’t agree with. I personally am very confident with myself, and I feel perfectly fine being up here in front of millions of people in a swimsuit, but I absolutely agree with those people: They have the right to stand up and vote against whatever they feel is not necessary.”


Miss Utah Marissa Powell (3rd runner-up)

Question from judge Nene Leakes, the reality TV star: “A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children women are the primary earners yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?”

Miss Utah Marissa Powell, right, answers her question as host Giuliana Rancic listens. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
Miss Utah Marissa Powell, right, answers her question as host Giuliana Rancic listens. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Miss Utah: “I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive to . . . [long pause, punctuated by a sheepish yet radiant smile]. . . figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem and, I think, especially the men are seen as the leaders of this, so we need to . . . [shorter pause] . . . create education better so we can solve this problem.”


(Jeff Bottari / AP) (Jeff Bottari / AP)

Miss Illinois Stacie Juris (2nd runner-up)

Question from judge Bob Harper, a reality TV star: “Due to the problem of binge drinking on college campuses, a growing number of college presidents are encouraging lawmakers to lower the drinking age. Do you agree that this would promote responsible drinking? Why or why not?”

Miss Illinois: “I think if you’re going to drink irresponsibly, you’re going to do so whether you’re 18, 19, 20 or 21. I think it’s important to continue to encourage our youth to be responsible and drink responsibly and look out for the safety of those around them as well as, as well as themselves.”


(Ethan Miller / Getty Images) (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Miss Alabama Mary Margaret McCord (1st runner-up)

Question from Wendie Malick, the actress: “Government tracking of phone records has been in the news lately. Is this an invasion of privacy or necessary to keep our country safe? Why or why not?”

Miss Alabama: “I think the society that we live in today, it’s sad that if we go to the movies or to the airport or even to the mall that we have to worry about our safety. So that I would rather someone track my telephone messages and feel safe wherever I go than feel like they’re, um, encroaching on my privacy.”


Miss Connecticut Erin Brady (Miss USA winner)

Question from judge Mo Rocca, the comedian: “Miss Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled that criminal suspects can be subjected to a police DNA test after arrest. Do you agree or disagree with this, and why or why not?”

(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Miss Connecticut: “I would agree with this. I think that if somebody’s being prosecuted and is . . .[short pause]. . . committed a crime that’s that severe that they should have a DNA test. I think there are so many crimes going on in this world that if that’s one step closer to figuring out who has done it, I think we should absolutely do so.”

Earlier: Miss USA contestants from DC area, 6/14/13

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