Republican Candidates Silent After Obama Criticizes Their Gay Soldier Booing Silence

Republican presidential candidates were mostly quiet today after a tongue lashing from President Obama about their failure to stick up for soldier booed at a GOP debate because he was gay.

Only Herman Cain went on the record after Obama's scathing speech before the Human Rights Campaign annual dinner.

"You want to be commander-in-chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient," the president told the crowd in reference to a recent Republican debate.

At the debate last month, an openly gay Army soldier asked on videotape, "Do you intend to circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?"

From the audience came a couple boos, but none of the candidate said anything about them.

"I happen to think that maybe they were booing the whole 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal more so than booing that soldier," Cain told ABC's Christiane Amanpour on "This Week."

Cain was referring to the policy that has been lifted allowing gay members of the military to serve openly.

But the president, in full campaign mode, went after every Republican candidate.

"We don't believe in a small America. We don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it's OK for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the president of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed," he told the audience Saturday night.

Right after the debate, some Republicans said they didn't hear the boos, others said they weren't given time to respond. Cain was asked today if he now regrets not rebuking the people who booed during the debate.

"I did not have that luxury, because I was not in control. I was not the moderator," Cain said.

But Amanpour pressed the former Godfather's Pizza CEO, asking whether in retrospect he feels he should have said something.

"In retrospect, because of the controversy it has created and because of the different interpretations that it could have had, yes, that probably -- that would have been appropriate," he said.

ABC News contact the other Republicans campaigns about the president's combative chiding. Only Michele Bachmann's campaign responded, but did not specifically address Obama's criticism.

"Michele honors the service of every man and woman in our armed forces," Bachmann campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said. "As commander-in-chief, she will lead from the front and not put them in harm's way without a vital national interest and a clear mission."

Cain didn't rebuke the president's statement that the United States is not "so small" to boo anybody.

"I would agree with that statement," Cain said.