July 23rd, 2007
09:33 PM ET
12 years ago

Candidates talk sex

(CNN) – There were the predictable sheepish looks. The slightly goofy laughs. For a moment, the eight power players running as Democrats for president turned into awkward parents confronted or recalling The Sex Talk.

But it was just a moment, then the politicians kicked in. At the CNN/YouTube debate, Planned Parenthood worker Anne Laird of Pennsylvania asked the candidates whether they had spoken, in anatomically correct terms, with their children about sex.

"We've been through the whole experience," said a smiling, somewhat jocular John Edwards.

Edwards has a daughter in college and two younger children, aged nine and six. Edward's son Wade died in 1996 when he was 16. The former North Carolina senator said he was sure he had used correct terms in discussing sex with his older children.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, had to confront vocal criticism launched by Republican candidate Mitt Romney earlier in the week. Obama has endorsed some elements of sex education starting in kindergarten, an idea that Romney attacked. Obama fired back at Monday's debate.

"This was the same proposal (Romney) supported when he was running for governor of Massachusetts," Obama said, showing you don't need specific or anatomical terms to convey the idea of a "flip-flop".

- CNN Radio's Lisa Goddard

Filed under: CNN/YouTube Debate
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Jessica, Bourbonnais Illinois

    I think that sadly, there are parents who do not teach their children from a young age about what is appropriate touching and what is inappropriate touching and that is one of the reasons, in my opinion, why there are so many teen pregnancies and STD's being transmitted in the U.S because of the lack of educating children from a young age about what is appropriate. I don't think that Obama is calling for teaching ALL the facts of life at the age of 5. I think he just wants to ensure that children know from a young age what is right and wrong when it comes to touching.

    July 23, 2007 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  2. Tom Dedham, Mass

    What he carefully left out is his belief that schools should have a role in teaching this to your 5 year old.

    He purposely left the word school out of his answer, calculated and flat out misinformed the audience of his true beliefs.

    Though he did get in his "canned" lie about Mitt Romney supporting this but not anymore, flat out untrue.

    I have a 6 year old daughter and at that age it is my job along with my wife to impart that knowledge onto her as we have done.

    "Age appropriate" comes into play here.

    When she gets into junior high and further on I am all for some discussion of sex education, abstinence, contraception etc, etc, but until then it is the PARENTS job.

    July 23, 2007 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  3. Andre D., Reading, PA

    Obama made a very good point.

    July 23, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  4. prov, RI

    Obama was all over the question. He is not fluent, specific, and and he gets stuck occasionally. He seems he is lost...

    July 23, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  5. Jenna, New York, NY

    I think it's ridiculous that these candidates treated "sex ed" as though it were synonymous with "teaching your kids how not to become prey to sex offenders." Way to skirt around the difficult questions (e.g., what and how we should teach our kids about teenage sexual activity, birth control, abortion, non-heterosexual sex, etc.). Way to turn what could have potentially been an enlightening discussion into a piece of fluff.

    July 23, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  6. Becky, Thousand Oaks, CA

    As a member of the public school system, I'd like to acknowledge both sides of the issue Obama raised. It's important for people-especially children-to know what kind of touching is inappropriate. Graphic terms aren't necessary, but a general overview would probably help cut down on continued abuse and teenage pregnancy. It's like drug and tobacco prevention classes: the more you know, the wiser your decision will be.

    July 24, 2007 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  7. e. little, California

    Sex education is far more important then speaking about liberty and civil rights. Glad to hear that the government is on top of things when it comes to sex education. American Parents should handle this on their own without tax payer or government support.

    July 24, 2007 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Waist of time!

    July 24, 2007 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  9. Colin, Austin, Texas

    I totally agree with Jenna from NY...the candidates did a horrible job answering the true intent of this question. I wanted to hear about how pro-acitve, contraceptive-inclusive sex education can lead to decreased teenage pregnancy and overall abortion rates, maybe a public health plan to make condoms more affordable and readily available. Educating the public about sex and safe sex practices has nothing to do with "inappropriate touching." Edwards uncomfortably squirming while claiming he has used scientifically-accurate terminology was unsurprising. If a revered public figure can't discuss sex candidly, how can they expect parents or teachers to do so? The puritanical roots of the U.S. breed a constant repression of frank sexual discussion–as a college student, I am constantly amazed at the sexual ignorance of my peers. We have to start dealing with the real and not the ideal. The U.S. leads nations like France, Germany, and the Netherlands in teenage pregnancy, birth, abortion, HIV, and most other STI-cotraction rates. These countries embrace sex: unapologetic advertising images and sex education beginning around age eight. Sex is not crass or taboo there; it's a natural thing that's natural to discuss. We need a president who can resist the current, unhealthy notions of avoidance and throw the sexual dialogue wide open.

    July 24, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. Well Wisher, washington D.C, D.C

    Definitely.. Hillary came out as best! She was very confident and yes Body language counts.. You don't want your president to appear nervous out there.. She is the one, Brave & confident
    Clinton '08

    July 24, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |