Romney in hot water over Muslim religious test comment [updated Wednesday a.m.] [and again p.m.]

( - promoted by Charley on the MTA)

As noted earlier today yesterday, Mitt Romney is quoted in an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor today as having ruled out Muslims for cabinet posts.  He is predictably claiming that he was misquoted.  If Mr. Ijaz, the op-ed’s author, has a tape, now would be the time to supply it.

In any event, though, TPM is on the case, and they’ve dug up some impressive nuggets.  Basically, if the Monitor op-ed is accurate, it’s not the first time Romney has made similar comments.

At a private fund-raising luncheon in Las Vegas about three months ago, Mitt Romney said he would probably not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet if elected president, according to two witnesses interviewed by TPM Election Central.

Making this story potentially worse for Romney, one of the witnesses, Irma Aguirre, a former finance director of the Nevada Republican Party, says that she saw Romney’s comments as “racist.” She paraphrased Romney as saying: “They’re radical. There’s no talking to them. There’s no negotiating with them.”

The second witness, a self-described local registered Republican named George Harris, confirmed her account….

Aguirre says Romney made the comments three months ago at Lawry’s restaurant in Las Vegas, at a different event from the one chronicled in the Monitor op-ed. Aguirre says that she was at the event with local Republican George Harris, who asked Romney the relevant question. She described the exchange this way:

“His question was something to the effect of, `Considering the problems that we have with the Jihadist movement and the problems we have with the Middle East, would you consider having a Muslim as an adviser that can guide you as to what kind of decisions to make with regards to the Middle East?’”

“He said, `Probably not.’”

Aguirre added that what Romney said next surprised her. “He said something to the effect of, `They’re radicals. There’s no talking to them. There’s no negotiating with them.’ I can’t remember the exact words he used, but that was the explanation. We left thinking, `Wow, what a racist comment. He automatically assumed that all Muslims are radical.’”

Harris, a self-described registered Republican who’s also the state GOP finance chair and who asked Romney the question, confirmed this account in a telephone interview with TPM Election Central.

“My question was, `Look, with the amount of Muslims that don’t trust the United States, would you consider it prudent to put a Muslim in your cabinet?’ He said, `Most likely not.’ And he went on to say what Irma said he said. I was more angry than she was. I said, `I’m not gonna support this guy.’ If he’s gonna be President of the United States, don’t you think you need to be a little more open minded?”

As it happens, the question posed to Romney in Las Vegas led to the follow-up question, also in Nevada, three months later. Aguirre and Harris subsequently told the businessman who later wrote the Monitor article of their exchange with Romney. The businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, who has actively lobbied American officials on Mideast policy for many years, tells me that this is what prompted him to go to the event he described in the article and ask Romney the question again.

Fascinating stuff — kudos to Greg Sargent at TPM for digging this up.

UPDATE: TPM has dug up a contemporaneous account of the Nevada incident corroborating Ms. Aguirre’s and Mr. Harris’s recollection that Romney pretty much shot down the possibility of a Muslim in his cabinet.

So when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently addressed a group of a prominent local conservatives at a Las Vegas fundraiser, George [Harris] lobbed the first question: “If you are elected President,” he asked, “will you include any Muslim members in your cabinet?”

In the seconds before former Massachusetts Governor Romney responded, you could have heard a pin drop.

His (admittedly, very smooth) answer in a nutshell? “Not likely.”

Alrighty, then.  It’s becoming pretty clear that Romney is talking a good diversity game to CNN and MSNBC, but is humming a different tune at private Republican fundraising events.  I wonder why he’d do that …

FURTHER UPDATE: Wow, TPM has got its teeth into this one and they’re not letting go.  They have now found a witness who corroborates Monsoor Ijaz’s account of what Romney said about Muslims in his cabinet, and disputes Romney’s revisionist version.  The witness, a Republican, declined to make his name public.

I just got off the phone with another Nevada Republican who confirmed that Mansoor Ijaz’s  account of Mitt Romney saying he’d nix Muslims in his cabinet is accurate.

This is the first person I’ve spoken to who directly confirmed Ijaz’s account of that particular event. The other two Nevada Republicans I spoke with yesterday confirmed that Romney had made very similar remarks at a different, earlier event.

“I can tell you that what was reported by Mansoor is accurate,” this person said to me. The man, a real estate broker and volunteer in local Republican politics, declined to allow his name to be used….

When I read Romney’s remarks to this Republican, however, he said: “I don’t recall Romney saying what you read to me,” adding that “what Monsoor stated was an accurate representation.”

TPM’s Greg Sargent sums it up thusly:

Romney’s representation of what happened is at odds with mounting evidence that Ijaz’s account is the accurate one.

Or, put less delicately, mounting evidence suggests that Romney is lying about what happened.

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25 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Ijaz response, Romeny is full of it....

    Here is his response.

    • Just saying

      Frankly Id put a Muslim in my cabinet before a Mormon.  

      • And on what basis do you make that assessment?

        • Dangers of religion in the public arena

          One part of how I'd answer that question (I cannot speak for jconway) would include thinking about what Islam and Mormonism assert and why they assert it and then comparing and contrasting. As Atrios often points out, that's a kind of discourse that verges on taboo in the public arena. Yet when candidates make their faith and their beliefs part of their appeal for office, it is very odd that the content of the touted faith and beliefs sit behind a display case protected from close examination.

    • Just NOW figuring out Mitt is a LSOS?

      I love this line from Stein's Huffington Post, "This guy is lying now to the American people," said Ijaz.  NOW?!  HA!  When hasn't he?

  2. Oh

    Romney's comment was about as dumb as Harvard president Larry Summers's regarding women in science.

    Larry isn't president of Harvard any more--he's fortunate that he has a lifetime sinecure as a tenured professor.  Romney's comment shows that he shouldn't be elected president of the US.  Apparently, he isn't as good a used-car salesman (MBA and all) as I had given him credit for.  It's amazing that these supposedly educated (I'll withhold "intelligent") people haven't learned to keep their mouths shut.

    • God/Allah/FSM/Budda forbid!

      The worst thing in the world would be for these peole to learn to keep their mouths shut. If anything, they're too good at it already. Their goal is to project a perfect persona. These slips give us a glimpse at the reality.

      Frankly, I'm surprised Romney was ever so candid. There is no such thing as a private audience unless you are alone with a mirror (perhaps Romney's favorite audience). Isn't this sort of thing just "understood"?

      I agree with you on this one, Raj. It is amazing they aren't perfect in using "public language" instead of revealing their true feelings. But then when you look at how often they speak and on so many issues, it's understandable they slip a bit now and then. It's just a question of what issue they slip on and how hard they hit when they land.

      • By their fruits shall ye know them

        I prefer to include "deeds" in "fruits" but "deeds" alone is an imperfect translation.

        (1 Cor. 13:3)

        It strikes me as absolutely assinine that an American president would not want to employ a Muslim to advise him at least as to Muslim jihadi, but that's just me.  

        BTW, I've worked with Muslims, Hindis and members of other religions.  Why should Americans not take experience where they can find it?

    • Was it Summer's statement or the implication.

      Just how was Summer's statement inaccurate? Females walk before males, they have greater linguistic skills. their fine motor and fast twitch develop more quickly than males. But making the implication that the male brain juggles numbers and order to a greater extent than the female brain is outrageous?  

      • Regardless of the accuracy of Summers's statement... thing that a good politician should know (and the president of an elite university is a politician) is that one can believe things in private, that he (or she) should never say in public.

        It is unclear whether the male brain juggles numbers better than the female brain.  Roughly half of the students in my Advanced Placement math course were female, so I would suggest to you that your presumption is a bit misplaced.

        Aside from that, Summers, speaking as president of Harvard, is partially responsible for faculty hiring.  His statement, if it had not gone unchallenged, may have discouraged women from going into the "hard sciences" because that evidenced a lingering effect of the "old-boy network" in the sciences.  For example, there is more than a bit of evidence that tenure is granted, not on teaching ability, but on the basis of the ability to get research grants.

  3. WHO ELSE?

     Have any other candidates on either side made any statements ref Muslims in their Cabinet?  Curious George wants to know what answers that ques. will generate. The Mittster just has no place in this arena either with a Muslim or without.  

  4. Romney's letter to Newsweek:

    After Newsweek did a cover story on Romney, and discussed his faith, Romney wrote this letter to them:

    I am an American running for president, not a Mormon running for president, but I am also very proud of my faith. And I am not a cafeteria Mormon, choosing some parts to accept and reject-I am "true blue, through and through." My family and I are better people and far happier than we would have been without our faith. It is puzzling that when NEWSWEEK looks at me ("A Mormon's Journey: The Making of Mitt Romney," Oct. 8) what you mostly see is a Mormon. I would have thought that more important to my potential presidency would be my record as a governor, 25-year business leader, Olympic CEO, father, husband-and American.

    So Romney wants people to see him as a whole person, not just as a Mormon.  But when he looks at other people, he sees whether they are Muslim or not, and doesn't care for the whole person.

    He is the most phony hypocritical person running for President.  Quite the accomplishment.


    • The sad fact is that...

      ...George, Mitt Romney's father, might have made a decent candidate for president.  Mitt, no.

  5. Where are the Arab-American communities that can register a block of votes?

    I think one of the largest Arab-American populations is in Michigan, a state where Mitt expects to do well because of his roots.  It would be interesting to skim his donor list and see if there are supporters who are active in the Muslim community who will now withdraw their support.

    Another block of votes might be in Ohio.  If you like Gold Star Chili, you probably won't like Romney dissing the local business people who are pillars of the Cincinnati community.

    • Gold Star sucks

      so says me, a Skyline man.

    • There is a huge Muslim community in the Detroit area...

      I do not know whether or not they are Turk expatriots or Arabs, but it really doesn't matter.

      Quite frankly, the city with the largest percentage of Italian expatriots is...Toronto.

      BTW, I've tried Gold Star Chili.  It's horrible.  there are a number of reasons to diss Cincinnati (the Keatings' Citizens for Community Values--previously the "Citizens for Decent Literature"--for example), but not for the local business people.  Yes, I was raised there.

  6. What a show!

    I just love it when members of make-believe religions go at each other; they all need to get a life!

  7. Opening for Huckabee

    Huckabee should be all over this. "There are many patriotic Americans of all faiths. We all worship the same one God. I will not impose a religious test for service in my administration -- to do so is simply un-American."

    The hypocrisy of Romney is breathtaking. And this one is going to hurt. Please, pulleeease let there be a tape. If there is, Romney is at 14 minutes and counting.  

  8. If there is another calamity in USA on a 9/11 scale prior to next November

    care to place a wager who will be elected?

    You seem to think this is all on the level.

    Nothing is on the level.  Everything is a deal.  No deal too small.

    As Raj stated some weeks back. Paraphrase: It's all just a big chess board!

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Sat 22 Nov 6:29 PM