Guest Column: Behind the Death Penalty Cheers

One of the oddest moments of the GOP presidential primary debate Wednesday night in California occurred when the audience burst into applause in response to moderator Brian Williams’ recap of Gov. Rick Perry’s record of presiding over 234 executions.

Williams had not yet even finished asking his question when the crowd erupted with clapping and even whistles. The effusive audience applause in response to both Williams’ mention of Perry’s record and the governor’s full-throated, guilt-free answer seems to reflect a Republican primary audience that, like the governor, is untroubled by the death penalty, either in principle or ...

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