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By Allan Smith

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, explained at length during a CNN town hall Wednesday why he saw an X-rated film with his mother decades ago.

Hickenlooper was asked about a passage in his memoir in which he discussed seeing a pornographic film with his mother in 1972. He said the movie was "Deep Throat."

In his telling, Hickenlooper said the movie theater visit happened when he returned home from college during Thanksgiving. His father died when he was eight, and when Hickenlooper left for college, it was the first time his mother was alone in years.

Initially, he asked a friend in Philadelphia if he would attend the film with him.

"We didn't know what an X-movie was," Hickenlooper said. "We thought it was a little naughty, but we didn't think it was that bad. You've gotta understand, I was 18 years old."

After getting home, Hickenlooper said his mother had cooked a huge meal for him despite hating to cook. This touched him so deeply that he invited her to join him and his friend at the movies.

"I said, 'I promised Jed that we'd go to the movie theater and see this new movie, you want to come?' And it's an X-movie, and I was sure she would say no. I made a mistake," Hickenlooper recalled. "And she said, 'I'd love to go' because she didn't want to be left alone in the house again. So I took my mother to see 'Deep Throat.'''

Hickenlooper said his mom was "mortified" at the opening scene of the hardcore pornographic film, but did not want to leave. The movie is roughly an hour long.

"I said repeatedly, 'I think we should leave, I think we should go.' And my mother was someone who rarely went to a movie. She thought almost every movie would get on TV. Obviously, not this one," he said. "When she paid, she was going to stay. And at the end, she knew I was humiliated."

"And as we drove home and — you know how the dashboard in the old cars had a kind of green light, and I asked her, I said, 'That was some experience,'" he added. "And she goes, 'I thought the lighting was very good in the movie.' I thought I saw a little grin in that green light."

Hickenlooper drew attention for another answer he gave at the town hall, this one about whether he'd select a woman as his running mate should he win the nomination.

"Of course," he said, asking soon after, "How come we're not asking more often the women, 'Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?'"

He stood by those comments afterward, telling CNN he was trying to make the point that "too often media discounts the chance of a woman winning" by asking such questions of men.

"They are never asked that question. Or at least, maybe I have missed it, but women I know feel that is a form of discounting, that they are less likely to win the nomination. That is what I am talking about."