There were a number of interesting tidbits in the Republican candidates debate tonight. There was the spectacle of Mitt Romney desperately trying to explain away his flip-flop on abortion. There was the stampede to declare embryonic stem-cell research immoral and unnecessary, culminating with Colorado representative Tom Tancredo’s declaration that such research is “reprehensible.” But the one that really caught my ear was the brief discussion of evolution.
John McCain was asked directly, “Do you believe in evolution?”
The answer, after a brief pause, was a simple, if somewhat uncomfortable, Yes.
At this point Chris Matthews asked the ten candidates as a group to raise their hand if they did not believe in evolution. Kansas senator Sam Brownback raised his hand very quickly, closely followed by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. A moment later, after hesitating to see how many other people would raise their hands, came Tom Tancredo. No one else raised his hand.
At this point, McCain decided that he’d better embellish his answer a bit. So he said, “I believe in evolution, but I also believe that when I hike the Grand Canyon and see a sunset that the hand of God is there also.”
Translation: Whoops! I might have offended religious voters. Better throw in some canned, cliched, insincere remark about God.
I was a bit surprised that former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore and California representative Duncan Hunter didn’t raise their hands. They’re pretty right-wing. But I’m sure people like Rudy Giuliani and former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson have no problem with evolution, and were probably just happy the question went away as quickly as it did.
When a transcript of the debate appears online, we’ll have a look at some of the other interesting bits.