Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak before the UN General Assembly in New York City next week.
(CNN) – Several presidential candidates demanded officials reject a request from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the site of the World Trade Center attack, calling the idea “a disgrace” and “shockingly audacious”.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters Wednesday Ahmadinejad has asked to visit Ground Zero when he is New York next week for the UN General Assembly. Police later issued a statement saying the request was being denied, but reports said the Iranian mission was still pursuing the idea.
Iran has never been connected to the attacks of September 11, 2001 but candidates from both parties say there's plenty of other reasons not to allow it.
Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York on 9/11, said in a statement, “"Under no circumstances should the NYPD or any other American authority assist President Ahmadinejad in visiting Ground Zero.” Giuliani, on a trip to London, said, “This is a man who has made threats against America and Israel, is harboring Bin Laden's son and other al-Qaeda leaders, is shipping arms to Iraqi insurgents and is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. Assisting Ahmadinejad in touring Ground Zero – hallowed ground for all Americans – is outrageous."
Senator Hillary Clinton, in New York for a fund-raiser for her Democratic presidential bid, said in a statement, “It is unacceptable for Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who refuses to renounce and end his own country’s support of terrorism, to visit the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in our nation’s history."
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, campaigning in Florida Wednesday, issued a statement calling for the visit to be denied. The GOP presidential candidate He said, "Ahmadinejad's shockingly audacious request should be met with a vehement no. It's inconceivable that any consideration would be given to the idea of entertaining the leader of a state sponsor of terror at Ground Zero. This would deeply offend the sensibilities of Americans from all corners of our nation. Instead of entertaining Ahmadinejad, we should be indicting him."
Monday, Romney sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon saying the invitation should be withdrawn. He said if Ahmadinejad is allowed to visit, as he did last year, “the United States must reconsider its level of support and funding for the United Nations.”
Democratic candidate and Senator Chris Dodd also issued a statement, saying, “It is a disgrace and an insult for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man who has given both financial and material support to international terrorist organizations, and who offers rhetoric that spreads only hatred, to be anywhere near Ground Zero."
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk