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Monday, Romney sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon saying the invitation should be withdrawn.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

    This is a great way to show the world democracy. Not allow someone to go somewhere because you don't like them. What a stupid idea.

    September 20, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I am not surprised that the presidential candidates are opposed to this. I would think that most Americans are. This is a head of state that has called for violence against another country. When he denys tragedy in the past, what makes people think that he will be respectful about other disasters.

    September 20, 2007 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  3. Jo, Atlanta GA

    It was ill advised on the Iranian part to think they can pull something like this off.

    CAN someone tell me the reason why GOP can block debates and DEMs could not when they were in the minority? I don't get it. GOP back then if said they could go to the nuclear option.. Why are the Dems spinless???

    September 20, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  4. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Wow....Hillary is tough talking? I would like to vote for her for prime minister of Canada.

    September 20, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  5. Seam, Philly PA

    I think we ought to let him visit the site. What better way to show first hand America's strength, resiliency, determination, and speedy recovery. He should witness and feel the sense of power this nation has as we join together in the rebuilding process at the same time our troops fight a war.

    September 20, 2007 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  6. Anonymous

    To: AJ of VT, Anonymous of RI, and Nick of Atlanta, GA:

    Here's why Iranian President Ahmadinejad should NOT be welcome to Ground Zero:

    (1) Iran is fighting a proxy war against our brave troops in Iraq;

    (2)Iran is a top sponsor of terror throughout the world;

    (3)Iran held 53 Americans hostage for 444 days in 1979-1981 (I was only a kid at the time, but it's one of my earliest political memories);

    (4) Ahmadinejad has denied the holocaust ever occurred;

    (5) Ahmadinejad has stated more than once that Israel should be "wiped off the map".

    Allowing the terrorist leader of Iran to visit a solemn place like Ground Zero where thousands of our innocent neighbors were slaughtered and forced to jump from skyscrapers would be an insult to their memory.

    In summary, you people need to research this issue and grow a backbone.

    September 20, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  7. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    He's killing our troops in Iraq and a top sponsor of terrorism.

    Allowing him to visit Ground Zero is an insult.

    September 20, 2007 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. HomeoftheBrave

    I take the opposite approach.

    Bush should escort Mr. Ahmadinejad down to the pit and then take him over to Afghanistan and Baghdad, let him see Saddam's palaces, give him the tour.

    Osama and Saddam fooled the world, and themselfs. So, lets make it real clear as to what is expected from civilized nations and the consequences of childish tyrannical behavior.

    Speak softly and carry a big stick..

    September 20, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  9. RuthieM

    I see we are still pea-minded people. Oh, how boastful of us - Romney saying we should vehemently deny his entrance, Hillary shouting her disdain. Gimme a break. This is not the one who attacked us on 9-11. Many people, countries around the world have screamed hate towards America and Americans. Do we single them all out and prevent their steps on these grounds? No. Why aren't we as tough on those that actually attacked us instead of playing bully to those who didn't? When will this 'diplomacy' begin? When will all the 'outrage' stop? Who among us can cast the first stone?

    September 20, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    Chris from Middleton:

    Do you have anything in addition to offer on this piece, aside from your usual Hillary bashing? I'm not a fan of hers but jeez, man, no one said you had to vote for her, get over it.

    As far as Ahmadinejad is concerned, how old are we? Who attacked us on 9/11? I mean, the Bush Family doesn't restrict their Saudi relatives travels to the states, nor do they restrict the bin Laden family travels to the states. And, if I'm not mistaken, the Iranians – as well as the rest of the world – mourned with us on 9/11.

    September 20, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. M.G.

    The Bush Administration will do anything to stir up a war with Iran (under Cheney's guidance) and secure that large oil reserve. it's all laid out in Cheney's favorite book "The Grand Chessboard"

    September 20, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I'm curious to know why Ahmadinejad request to visit the World Trade Center site. Perhaps he has already seen it via satellite and knows his request will be denied. I think this denial will come back to embarrass us.

    September 20, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. Christian, Tampa FL

    It would be most honorable of us to allow the Iranian president to make his tribute/photo-op.

    The first steps toward peace and common ground are with moments like this. We seem to have squandered a good opportunity.

    September 20, 2007 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. Steve, Arizona

    Am I the only one who is saddened by this reaction by our candidates? I thought this was the land of the free. Do we routinely deny visitors to this great country of ours because of their beliefs?

    After 9/11, there was a moment of silence at an Iranian soccer game and a candlelight vigil. I think allowing Mr. Ahmadinejad to visit says more for the US, and don't we need a little positive world opinion?

    September 20, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Payne, Athens, GA

    Thank you to the Anonymous writer, and yes people should do more research before saying STUPID things. The only thing that I have to add is, What are we fighting for? I am more than willing to bet that everyone who comment that Ahmadinejad should be allowed to visit Gound Zero didn't know someone who passed that day.

    September 20, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. Grovin, Darnassus, IL

    Don't you guys get it?

    You say "Suuuuuuure Mahmoud, we'd be GLAD to show you Ground Zero!" Then you publicize the HELL out of his visit so every wacko with a gun is down there waiting. Then you "accidentally" pull away his security detail over some minor issue.

    You don't actually "do" anything. Problem solves itself!

    Geez, people, THINK...

    September 20, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Hey Anonymous, you need to grow a spine and post your name and location. Many people say and do many things yet we do not forbid them from public spaces in our great country. To do so admits that we are afraid. So you can do your so called "research" and spout your right wing rhetoric, and NOT post your identity. But in truth Americans do not hide in caves when the enemy arrives. America shows our stamina and resiliance. We show that we are truely the land of the free.

    September 20, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. Theresa N. Aberdeen MD

    Let him go. We should not provide any security. Our police have to protect and serve us, not him. His entourage should be limited and bear no arms. The people in the towers did not have any weapons, why should he? Would he make it out of New York? I think not. We will lay the wreath for him.
    I am the wife of a former POW of WWII and he served in Korea. My family will be hyappy to buy a wreath for his family.

    September 20, 2007 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. Riaz, Jersey City, NJ

    Curious... Did any Iranian Citizen die in 9/11 twin tower collapse?

    September 20, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    And yet a healthy # of CNN's audience (go check the current poll on CNN's website) believe this nut SHOULD be allowed to visit this hallow ground.

    If that doesn't tell you enough about the typical CNN viewer I don't know what would.

    September 20, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. Steve, Arizona

    To Payne in Athens, GA.

    Yes, I am one of the YES people. I am currently in the military. I have seen combat. I knew people who were lost on 9/11. Can you say the same?

    September 20, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. James, Phoenix AZ

    How about President Bush request a guided tour of Medina and Mecca? Think anyone living in the middle east would object?

    September 20, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Sad that so many fools are so infuriated by something they heard from the bush administration.Don't you people know what "sabre rattling" is?This phony gripe against Iran is taking away from the real reason, that we don't want to legitamize a theocracy.For the whackos here who have some religious ideological reason for being mad at a third world leader,maybe you should stop promoting theocracy here so that we might be able to thwart it elsewhere without being hypocrits.Rep. King is a good example of a fundamentalist looney instigating attacks against Americans.As long as we allow mentally retarded people the freedom to spew their bigotry like King,the longer this conflict of idiocy will continue.

    September 20, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. J.Crobuzon

    Adam, Persians are generally nice people. It's the ones who think of themselves as Iranians who are troublesome. Example: People who think of themselves as Americans compared to people who think of themselves as Republicans or Democrats.

    September 20, 2007 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  25. Joe, Chicago, IL

    Those who see no problem with Ahmadinejad's proposed visit are ridiculously naive. Simple retorts of "Is Iran behind the 9/11 attack?" and complaints of a lack of respect for a visiting head of state ignore WHY he would want to visit the site. Given his expressed views concerning America and Islamic fundamentalists, whose memory do you think he intends to honor by visiting the site? Must we facilitate a visit by someone who probably wishes to honor those who killed Americans there at that site?

    September 20, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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