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Monday, Romney sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon saying the invitation should be withdrawn.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

    Is Iran behind the 9/11 attack?

    September 19, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  2. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    It would be a real shame if anything happened to this guy while visiting the UN. Nutcases, this is your chance to have your 15 minutes of fame.

    September 19, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  3. James, Phoenix AZ

    I say let him visit Ground Zero – without police or any security... just Ahmadinejad and the Americans protesting his presence.

    September 19, 2007 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. David, Encinitas, CA

    It wouldn't surprise me if Ahmadinejad made the request for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of our politicians. This is an egotistical guy who thrives on making a stir. If anything, our leaders (and the media!) should be ignoring him.

    September 19, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  5. Frank Denver

    WHATs wrong here guys. are we so afraid to let someone see ground zero that we become idiots. Iran is not Afghanistan. What are we so afraid of? he going to spit or throw a rock..time to grow up

    September 19, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. Tim, Hartford CT

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should try taking a ride on a hijacked plane sometime. What a tacky, megalomaniac jerk.

    September 19, 2007 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  7. Rich, Minneapolis, MN

    Is the question to let him go or to provide protection for him if he goes? Most Americans probably have 2 different answers to that question

    September 19, 2007 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  8. Dheeraj, Manassas, VA

    Wow...the sheer arrogance of imperial overreach...and for the bright ones out there, I'm not talking about Iran here.

    September 19, 2007 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  9. timbuck, houston, tx

    I think it is childish and petty not to let Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visit "ground zero." He is a visiting head of state; and, he didn't knock the buildings down; neither did Saddam Hussein.

    September 19, 2007 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  10. Alexander Massillon Ohio

    Not that I am a supporter of IRAN in any way shape or form. But shouldn't we set an example here that everyone in the Untied States are free and free to visit any public site. I don't see how rejecting his going to ground zero is going to do anything other then give him something more to talk about. Allowing him in is exactly what he expects not to happen. Let him go let him see what his support for terror can do.

    September 19, 2007 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  11. Shawn, Iowa City, IA

    Would it surprise anyone if Ahmadinejad claimed that this is a conspiracy to cover up that the WTC attacks never happened? If the Allied powers could fake the Holocaust according to him then surely he would have no problem believing that with modern technology the US and European states could have faked a couple of jets being flown into a pair of buildings. What's a few thousand 'fake' deaths in comparison to the 6 million plus that he claimed never died.

    September 19, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. C.Kemp, Los Angeles, CA

    Let me recap this situation. New York City’s World Trade Center was purportedly destroyed by planes hijacked mostly by nationals from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has acknowledged that 15 of the 19 hijackers who committed the Sept. 11 suicide attack on the World Trade Center were Saudi citizens. After lying to the citizens of The United States, the U.S. government made a pre-emptive military strike on a country that had absolutely no connection to the WTC tragedy, starting a war that is spiraling in and which we are now being viewed as occupyers, have lost more almost 4,000 soldiers, have started a destabilization in an area politically already precarious. We have a broad and growing military presence on the ground as well as 3 aircraft carrier groups in the Persian Gulf, yet expecting the region to willingly accept what we’ve done. Now, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wishes to visit the site of the World Trade Center attack and there are several presidential candidates demanding officials reject such a request. If anything, those candidates should automatically be removed from serious consideration for the presidency. The office is too important to the country and the world to be tolerant of people who are so blatantly out of touch with the facts and reality.

    September 19, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  13. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN


    If he wanted to go to show respect for the victims, it's shockingly stupid that our country's leadership snub his request. This would be a wonderful opportunity to facilitate communication between our two countries. But, god forbid we actually have a GOOD relationship with would be most inconvenient considering they are the next country in our cross-hairs.

    I also find it ironic that people would blast Iran for their alleged support for terrorism while simultaneously hosting Saudi officials in this country with open arms. Hypocrisy anyone?

    September 19, 2007 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  14. erika morgan black dimond wa

    This reaction by our candidates revels their complacency with the Bush administration's clamping down on all our rights, turning the US into a managed police stat, instead of the haven for personal freedom and self determination as our constitution promises. And besides who knows what effect the visit to hallowed ground christened in American blood might have on the Muslim leader, but we should give the Power a chance to open his eyes. PS. I also thought it was small of IKE to deny Kruchieve his Disneyland visit.

    September 19, 2007 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  15. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    And Bush's illegal and unprovoked attack and occupation of Iraq, with the subsequent deaths of over 1 million of their people, is NOT "international terrorism"?

    September 19, 2007 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  16. Linda - Albany, NY

    Ahmadinejad has some nerve to ask to "pay respect," especially on this particular site. With his record and defiance, is it any wonder he can not be trusted?

    How about doing your part to neutralize nuclear arms, Ahmadinejad?

    Exactly. This sicko can't be trusted and anyone that thinks otherwise is a complete fool.

    September 19, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  17. Jeff , Denver CO

    Hmm....I've seen plenty of Japanese visitors at Pearl Harbor, including some that actually participated in that attack.

    Do the candidates feel that we should bar those visitors as well?

    How about banning Saudi leadership from Ground Zero? That actually makes sense.

    September 20, 2007 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  18. Mike Cross; San Francisco, CA

    Iran: A Nation of Hate Mongering Bigots. Although I'm not a Mitt Rommney supporter, he's right when he says we should be indicting him, NOT entertaining him.

    The United Nations: How much more weaker can you become??!!

    September 20, 2007 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  19. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    So now Iran is responsible for 9/11?

    September 20, 2007 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  20. RA,Cary,NC

    No, Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Neo-Hitler of Iran, we don't want you to desecrate our Hallowed Ground Zero. You better stay home, disarm your 'Gestapo' Revolutionary guard, dismantle your Nuke Pragram and cut ties with the Neo-Stalin, a.k.a Hugo Chavez, and clean your mind and soul before you make another offensive 'request'!

    September 20, 2007 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  21. Bill W, Coatesville, PA

    I'd agree he should not be permitted this "photo op".

    I'd be afraid the pictures of him at ground zero would just further incite more violence from more radical followers of Islam.

    September 20, 2007 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  22. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    I think it's even more shocking and outrageous that here in the "land of the free" we are telling someone where they can and cant visit. This is a public space. Sure, we as Americans may be offended by it. But that's the cost of living in a free society.

    September 20, 2007 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  23. Anonymous, EG, RI

    Before everyone gets hysterical over this, I would like to remind everyone that it was the IRANIAN people who held a spontaneous candlelight vigil in support of the US right after 9/11. Wouldn't it have been a better PR move for us to have pictures of the Iranian President honoring our loss and showing solidarity with us? I am seriously dissapointed at the childishness of our candidates and government on this.

    September 20, 2007 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  24. Dr Atomic

    I'm a peaceful fellow, but I suspect that if I were given the job of showing Mr Ahmadjihad around Ground Zero he might somehow fall into a crater or stumble or otherwise come to some harm. Probably he should go somewhere safer, like that rodeo Borat visited. Or North Korea; I hear it's nice this time of year.

    September 20, 2007 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  25. laurinda,shokan,ny

    I am also furious that this man is coming to the U.S. I don't even think that this terrorist should be allowed to come to the U.N. The Bush adminisration should of had someone tell him to stay out of America. If he has something to say then he should e-mail it to the U.N. We are starting to look like a nation of clowns to other countries. Someone has to put their foot down to all this nonsense. This is a disgrace!

    September 20, 2007 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
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