September 19th, 2007
08:30 PM ET
13 years ago

Candidates blast 'shocking' Ahmadinejad Ground Zero request

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Monday, Romney sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon saying the invitation should be withdrawn.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

soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Ahmadinejad wants to visit ground zero just to get a rise out of people. And guess what? It's working perfectly. He's probably getting a good laugh at all the people shaking their fists in outrage.

    What's worse is that the candidates are using Ahmadinejad's request for nothing more than personal gain. The candidates aren't appealing to the NYPD who have to provide armed escort for the Iranian President. Otherwise the requests for denying the visit would have gone directly to the NYPD, not released to the mass media.

    The candidates are grand standing and pandering for nothing more than votes. It's all about politics and has nothing at all to do with giving respect to the people lost on 9/11.

    September 20, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. Eduardo, Los Angeles, CA

    This is a very important issue to remember...where our Presidential hopefuls for the Democrats stand should one get elected....

    September 20, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. Nathan, Cleveland, OH

    I agree it is just a photo op. and I, too, don't see how Iran was responsible but they do sponser terrorism. at the same time, why is it our leaders suck up to the Saudi's as they support the most radical form of Islam, Wahhabism?? they have totally funded it for the last 20 years to the tune of $70 billion. I guess our need and consumption of their oil has not only fuelled our cars but also global jihad.

    September 20, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. Man Alive, America

    Re:James, Phoenix AZ
    You said:
    "How about President Bush request a guided tour of Medina and Mecca? Think anyone living in the middle east would object?"

    Man alive that was awesome....and hell yeah they'd be sooooo pissed methinks.

    September 20, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. Ed, Los Angeles, CA

    This is an important issue to remember in the future, especially, should a Democrat be elected for President!

    September 20, 2007 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. Eduardo, Los Angeles, CA

    I sometimes wonder if we should let the Iranian President visit hollowed ground and see the harm that was done against innocent people and has affected not only America but the world. Let him see the day our country lost its innocence! However, to many nations over the World and sadly many Americans too, our country is the alleged "bad guy"! Therefore, this time around, let's promote the reputation of being the "bad Americans"!

    September 20, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    To Joe in Chi-town,it is you with the naivety my friend.The problem you have is of your own ignorance.Ahmedinejad only represents the same ignoramus's as bush represents here.Lies and propaganda are subverting your position,making you the fool.Support the war and you're sure to have war to fight for thousands of years,pretty short-sighted of you.Is that what you want for the future?

    September 20, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |

    He has not learnt anything from Saddam's experience. Saddam exhibited the same type of arrogance and look at what happened to him and his mouthy sons. The guy is pathetic and they should let him go to ground zero but with no security. He made that request because last time, Iran's spiritual leader came to the U.S. and they allowed him to visit the National Cathedral in DC to defend his country's nuclear ambitions and not because he wanted to go there and worship. No muslim will ever allow a christian to step into their mosque just to go and talk politics. This is like a slap on our face for this animal to come and request to visit ground zero. This is just too painful to imagine. I can't believe that he even had the nerve to dare think about something like this.

    September 20, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Veronica –
    I'm glad to see you are reading my blog (at least someone is..) – from your posts you are a left wing advocate – content in the belief that you are privy to all intelligence reports that our President is – and can made all your assessments based on pure are saying the "Iranians mourned"? what are you insane – they cheered...and had rallys in the streets....dragging pictures of our leaders through the streets and burning them – Iran is sending arms to the need to read something other than the DNC (or MoveOn) website....oh....almost forget – Hillary rots!

    September 20, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |

    To Ed,Ellenville,New York
    You are not making any sense and you can't even speak good English. How dare you attack Joe like that. You need to be checked out because only a sick person like you would make the kind of statement you are making and supporting that fool in Iran.

    September 20, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. Tom, Mission Viejo, CA

    Yes yes, the US is the worst country in the world, we are the global terrorists and bush is worse than that we've got that cleared, can we take a second to review reality?

    Not that my comment will change anything, but here it goes:

    1.) The government of Iran is fighting a proxy war with the US currently. Supplying insurgents/al Qaeda with weapons and training. This isn't really a question.

    2.) Ahmadinejad was one of the students who took hostages in 1979. This isn't Sarkozy or Merkel that is visiting the US.

    3.) Yes, Iran did not particpate in the actual 9/11 attacks, but they are a supporter of terrorism. This isn't about the site of the Twin Towers, it represents our resolve and fight against terrorism.

    4.) Ahmadineajad is 'paying his respects'? This man has shown no respect for the lives of innocent free people. Have you not read about the Persian-American scholars he was holding in jail for the past 4 months?
    have you not read about the crackdown on students, the violent repression of protests, and the barring of candidates from running for office? The Iranian government, despite the pro-Western youth, is not looking to pay respects to our dead.

    5.) Despite the hatred some have for the US and our government, the US is not a breeding ground for terrorists unlike the Middle East for the past 40 years.
    It took the Lockerbe bombing, the Munich Olympic massacre, countless plane hijackings, disco bombings in Germany and Malyasia, barracks bombing in Beirut, the '93 bombing of the WTC, the twin embassy bombings in Africa, the USS Cole attack, the '01 WTC attack, the pentagon, pennsylvania. We stopped bombing plots for airplanes over the Pacific, the shoe bomber, the millenium bomber, and countless others...It took all of that before the US decided to finally respond.

    While Saddam was developing weapons in the 1990s we were so focused on stopping him that we were blind to Iran beginning to develop its nuclear weapons program.

    This is the same Iran that only 25 years ago sent tens of thousands of kids to walk through the minefields during the Iran/Iraq war.

    5.) I'm torn between not approving of Ahmadinejad being allowed on American soil outside of the UN, or letting him try to get to the WTC site with his security detail and letting the people of NY decide whether they'll let this man make a mockery of our fight against Islamic facism.

    September 20, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    If we've been fighting a war w/ Iran since 1979, then why did we supply them with weapons during their conflict with Iraq in the 1980s? We're arming a nation while simultaneously being at war with them? Wouldn't that be treason?

    September 20, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    "Despite the hatred some have for the US and our government, the US is not a breeding ground for terrorists unlike the Middle East for the past 40 years."

    haha yeah, you're right. We breed them OVER THERE so we don't have to breed them at home. Brilliant strategy!

    September 20, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. Tom,

    Acutally, we supplied information and limited capabilities to IRAQ during the Iran/Iraq War. Many other European nations supplied Iraq with weapons, as well. Why? Because Iran and the Islamic Revolution posed a bigger threat in the Middle East at the time. And we're finally seeing that threat emerge.

    I've spoken with friends from Iran and they describe a country that is on the brink of a revolution on any given day. The young population is mostly pro-western but the older generation is staunchly in-step with the theocracy. The Islamic Revolution never materialized much benefit to society in the way of progress...and the population under 30 is widely aware of the failings. But they have no power currently...
    which is why we pressure Iran

    September 20, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    Posted By Chris, Middletown, CT : September 20, 2007 2:51 pm

    How old are you? Sorry to burst your Bubble Yum bubble but I'm not the left-wing advocate you think you know I am. Actually, you couldn't be farther from the truth as I'm more of a moderate, but I digress ... based on conversations I've had with a cousin who just retired from the Air Force after 23 years, and had security clearances up the wazoo because of the type of work he did, those who do not have the proper security clearances outside of the Oval Office are not privy to raw intelligence, i.e. all data mined from the intelligence agencies before diseminated and compiled into a formal report and given to the public. By public I mean most in Congress and the public in general. I am, however, flattered that you think I've got that kind of pull wherein I would have access to raw data prior to its disemination for public view.

    Yes, that's exactly what I said. Iranians mourned those lost on 9/11. Unless we're looking at two different Irans, I distinctly remember there being a vigil in Tehran in which thousands attended. Use the googles on the internet tubes to look into that before condemning me as "insane."

    As far as your simplistic generalization of where I obtain my information. Sorry to burst that Bubble Yum bubble again but ... you would be wrong. And, unlike the die-hard Republican you are I can retain more than just what's given to me in a 30 second soundbyte.

    September 20, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  16. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Interesting censureship here.

    September 20, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  17. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    To eunice,Md,I'll try again,your "good english" comment displays your lack of education and your silly response to my post shows your lack of reading comprehension.Try using a dictionary.Your attempt to slander me is futile.Maybe you should study a little more before making such foolish comments.

    September 20, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. Jim, Durham NC

    Anyone who thinks the WTC site is "public space" has clearly never been there since 9/11.

    Ahmadinejad wants to go INTO the site, which for all intents and purposes doesn't really exist anymore. It's a gigantic construction site.

    Either way it doesn't surprise me at all that people think we have some responsibility to let him go there. They whine about Saudis, but have any Saudis asked to visit the site?

    Liberals on this board want us to treat Ahmadinejad as if his military isn't killing American troops in Iraq. That he somehow deserves "hospitality."

    You make me sick, the lot of you.

    September 20, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  19. Nate, Minneapolis, MN

    Wow...shocks me how many people would defend a man who denies the Holucast, is the leader fromthe leading state sponsor of terrorism and seems to get endless invites to come to the US by the UN. THAT WE HAVE THE UN IN THE US AND LET IRAN AND CHAVEZ COME SPOUT THIER IDIOCY SHOULD BE PROOF TO THE WORLD THAT WE ALLOW FREE SPEECH! Not to mention that we pay for the UN to not only be irrelevant but spew hatred towards the US.

    No one is saying the Iranian people can't visit Ground Zero...the Iranian people are good folks, just not their leader.

    Would the left-wing rather call Bush, "Hitler" or promote the guy that denies Hitler ever committed the autrocities he did?

    As for those who compare this to Pearl Harbor...When the War on Terror is won, like WW II was (with a Nuke none the less) I say let any leader come see Ground Zero.

    Shocks me how much the far left hates the US...these posts confirm that.

    September 20, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  20. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    You posters with all that hate for this buddy of bush's are just too dimwitted to understand that this war is a hoax,the threat from saddam never existed.Lies that you people perpetuate because you just regurgitate your anti-american dogma of "kill the infidels" that the right-wingers programmed into you.Now you want to win the bogus war by nuking the world!Yeah,real smart move morons.There's a great deal on land in the desert,you seem perfect for it.Suckers that attack american values because their leader is a theocrat (and talks to ahmedinejad daily about their scam,)need to stay home and stop voting.Bush and Ahmedinejad are best friends,each uses the other to get support from their respctive moronic denizens.These posts are proof.

    September 21, 2007 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  21. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    Posted By Jim, Durham NC : September 20, 2007 8:37 pm

    I live in the NY metro area and have visited the site on many occasions ... what's your point? And, why would the Saudi's be denied access to visit the pit? They are the Arab branch of the Bush Family, and Bush likes to say how much the Saudi's are our friends, so why wouldn't they get permission?

    Perhaps its a good idea for Ahmadinejad to go and see for himself what terrorism does. And, I didn't realize we were in the habit of denying people access to roam the "land of the free and home of the brave".

    September 21, 2007 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  22. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    Posted By Jim, Durham NC : September 20, 2007 8:37 pm

    Considering how much Bush likes to say that the Saudi's are our "friends" and considering that the Royal House of Saud is the Arab part of the Royal House of Bush, why would they be denied access to the pit?

    As far as Ahmadinejad, let him go. Let him see the fruits of terrorisms labor. Besides, since when were we in the habit of denying anyone access to "the land of the free and home of the brave"?

    September 21, 2007 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  23. Robert TN

    Some of you people may not like Ahmadinejad, BUT it doesnt mean he doesnt have the right to visit A PUBLIC PLACE in "the land of the free" to pay respects to those that died. Sure he may not be the most nicest guy. But bush has killed a good number of people too. Hypocritical are we?? I guess the U.S can do no wrong right? Gulf of Tonkan anyone? We sponsor terrorist too. We funded AL CIA DUH and the taliban and armed Iran and Iraq. Rumsfeld sold weapons to Saddam in the 80's. Who's the sponsor of terror now? US. We are no better than they are. Grow up. Do the research before believing everything the mainstream media spoon feeds you. You fools.

    September 21, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. John Florida

    I am amazed at the sickness becoming more prominent in this country. How would any american come to the conclusion that it would be ok for Ahmadinejad to come to New York City, the US, much less ground zero. For you liberals working on limited brain cells, that would be like inviting the Emperor of Japan to Pearl Harbor to do a photo op, on Dec. 8, 1941. Or how about inviting OJ to his inlaws how to see how they are dealing with their grief. Or Hitler to London to get a gander at how powerful his bombs were. What are you liberals nuts. You have become so politically correct that you have lost everything that is American. You claim to stand for the law of this nation. You are horribly ignorant of the heart and soul of our founding fathers. Incidently, they didnt invite the King to come to the White House to see just how burned down it was after 1812. What are you thinking? Will some politician have the guts to stand up and be a true American and not the sick version we see today. Whats next Osama being invited to address the UN. Come on, get real. Are there any real americans left out there? If so please speak up.

    September 21, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  25. Jack, Durham, NC

    As far as Ahmadinejad, let him go. Let him see the fruits of terrorisms labor.

    All he's going to see is a gigantic construction site. Doesn't really have the same effect.


    September 22, 2007 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
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