LONDONDERRY — Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said he has "no regrets" and no intention of stepping down after the state Democratic Party yesterday called for his resignation.
Baldasaro has been at the center of controversy since telling the political blog ThinkProgress on Friday that he was "disgusted" when an openly gay soldier asked a question regarding "don't ask, don't tell" over a video hookup during a presidential primary debate in Florida.
"I am not apologizing," Baldasaro said yesterday. "This is a political issue (the media) are blowing out of proportion instead of focusing on the economy and other issues."
Baldasaro, who is campaigning for GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry, made the comments after the Texas governor's Town Hall meeting in Derry.
On Sept. 22, soldier Stephen Hill asked about the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" during the debate in Florida. He was then booed by the crowd.
Baldasaro, who opposes New Hampshire's gay marriage law, said he supported "don't ask, don't tell." He would not say yesterday if he thinks gays should be allowed in the military.
"He (the soldier) doesn't realize it, but when the (expletive) hits the fan, you want your brothers covering your back, not looking at your back," he told ThinkProgress Friday.
Baldasaro, who served in the Marines, was then asked if he thought the soldier should have been booed.
"I thought the audience, when they booed, I thought it was great," he said.
Speaking for the New Hampshire Democratic Party yesterday, Afghanistan war veteran and state Senate candidate Jeff Ballard of Brookfield said Baldasaro should step down.
"Rep. Baldasaro should have immediately apologized for his shameful comments after the Republican presidential debate," Ballard said. "As a veteran and a New Hampshire citizen, I found his applauding the booing of an Iraq War veteran appalling."
He also said Baldasaro was doing a disservice to the U.S. military.
Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein also said Baldasaro should apologize for his comments and resign.
"I think it's important that Speaker (William) O'Brien condemn his remarks," Kirstein said. "Clearly, Al Baldasaro is not capable of advocating or representing all veterans of New Hampshire."
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, said he spoke to Baldasaro on Tuesday and asked him to "consider and reflect" on what he said.
Bettencourt also said he told Baldasaro he should apologize for his remarks. But, he added, Baldasaro should not resign.
"I believe that calls for him to resign are too strong and inappropriate," Bettencourt said. "Al is a leader on veterans issues and he is well respected in the veteran community. It is unfortunate that this incident took away from all of his tireless efforts to help veterans."
Shannon Shutts, O'Brien's spokeswoman, said the House speaker has no intention of asking Baldasaro to resign.
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