November 28th, 2007
05:52 AM ET
15 years ago

Romney denies ruling out Muslim for Cabinet post

Romney said he did not rule out appointing a Muslim to his Cabinet.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney disputed a report Tuesday that he categorically ruled out appointing a Muslim to a Cabinet position.

Mansoor Ijaz, an American born businessman of Islamic faith, writes in the Christian Science Monitor that at a recent campaign event Romney said assigning a Muslim to his Cabinet would not be "justified" based on their percentage of the population.

"Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead," Ijaz writes. "Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they're too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking."

Campaigning in Florida, the former Massachusetts governor denied making such a blanket statement.

“His question was did I need to have a Muslim in my Cabinet to be able to confront radical jihad and would it be important to have a Muslim in my Cabinet,” said Romney, “and I said, 'No I don't think you need to have a Muslim in the Cabinet to take on radical jihad any more than during the second world war we needed to have a Japanese American to help us understand the threat that was coming from Japan.

“The people who would be part of my cabinet is something that I really haven't given a lot of thought to at this point, but I don't have boxes I check off as to their ethnicity…instead I would choose people based upon their merits and their capabilities,” he added.

Meanwhile, rival John McCain took aim at the alleged comments while campaigning in South Carolina. (Watch McCain's comments)

“I think his comment is indicative of how he might govern and I think it's absolutely wrong,” said the Arizona senator. “You appoint the most qualified people for the job, no matter who they are, where they come from, or where in America, as long as they're citizens.”

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Florida • John McCain • Mitt Romney • South Carolina
soundoff (125 Responses)
  1. Laarry Pierce, Columbia, SC

    Well, Mr. Mansoor Ijaz (reminds me of a John Wayne sidekick in The Comancheros), I would tell you that I have not thought very highly of Mitt Romney until this very moment. Until "moderate" Muslims come out publicly to denounce Osama Bin Ladin and all his cronies and wannabes, and keep renouncing him, Monsoor, I will be four square against having any Muslim in a position of authority and power in this government. In addition to that, Monsoor, until that denouncement comes loudly and strongly from those Muslims, ALL Muslims are suspect, in my humble opinion.

    November 27, 2007 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. Patrick, Las Vegas NV

    What a hypocrite.

    November 27, 2007 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. Bryan, Firestone, CO

    Don't you think...if it was said, there'd probably be a tape/video about it, a reporter providing literal text about it, not some heresay about some guy who could very likely be making something up? Look at the real video about a reporter asking Romney about the accusation. Do you think the very thorough response he gave is something someone can make up on the fly?

    America, if you can look beyond the noise and clutter that is being thrown at Mitt Romney, you'll find the most qualified, sincere candidate out there. Look past the naysayers, those who disseminate the rumors and lies. This guy is genuine and if America passes up this opportunity to have him as President, what a loss for our country. This guy is amazing. He's smart, he's experienced. He's proven himself in every part of his life. His record in Massachusetts as governor shows that he can fill a cabinet with a variety of backgrounds and talent, no matter the ethnicity, religious background, or any other attribute. He's certainly one that understands the concept of being excluded based on religion, so why would he make such a comment about Muslims? He wouldn't, so don't buy into the lies and distractions.

    November 27, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  4. Garrett Milwaukee, WI

    CNN's reporting on this is ridiculous and morally wrong. Unless they have a quote from Romney saying he wouldn't appoint a Muslim in his cabinet, there is absolutely no controversy, but the way this story is presented, false information and controversy is generated. Shame on CNN and all covering this non-issue in such a manner.

    November 27, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    wow some people are so dense. I mean read what he said. He did not say what is claimed and mccain jumps right on him before actually figuring out what was said! The people who are outraged by this are not smart enough to cast a ballot!

    November 27, 2007 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. Don Alexander Carson City Nevada

    If he really did say this it is the only thing that he has said that I agree with.

    November 27, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  7. Jake, Brussels, Belgium

    Hey, I really admire Senator McCain, but he is totally out of line jumping on Romney when the Governor's words have clearly been twisted. It's incredible how many people out there are just laying in wait to distort and isolate words to victimize themselves. Romney is a logical optimist in an illogical pessimists' realm.

    November 27, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. Garrett Milwaukee, WI

    What is even more disappointing than CNNs reporting here is to read through these comments and see how many people judge Romney on something he may not have even said. Does the voting public have similar shallow intellect and ability to discern from actual reporting and false reporting and dirt-digging found in the gossip magazines? It's sad.

    November 27, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. timbuck, houston, tx

    Fortunately, he won't have a cabinet or an administration.

    November 27, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  10. Kerry, Lexington MA

    Shouldn't we be getting words on tape before making this a story? Seems like hearsay to me. Any blockhead can put words in a candidate's mouth. Undoubtably, this is exactly what happened here. Non-story.

    November 27, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  11. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    Good Ol' Romney and his 'Foot in Mouth' disease... it's not so cute after the what, 200th time?

    November 27, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  12. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Mitt's right– no fringe groups (like his?) are fit to work for our government at the highest levels. If he doesn't listen to his staff soon and address why Mormonism isn't a cult, he's toast.

    November 27, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  13. Alfredo, Los Angees

    What did he really say? View the video at

    November 27, 2007 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  14. Jacob Neil, Fort Lee, NJ

    Is it me, or did McCain basically just state what Romney said?

    November 27, 2007 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  15. pbj, San Ramon, CA

    I have no problem with any candidate appointing Muslims, provided the appointee is vetted properly. For example, whether they agree with whipping and imprisoning a woman who was gang raped because she was with an unrelated male friend when she was assaulted (see Saudia Arabia) or whether they agree with whipping and imprisoning a kindergarten school teacher because her 6-year old students named a teddy bear Mohammed (see Sudan). If the proposed appointee does not affirmatively and unequivocally disavow these Muslim practices, then I would hope that their religion WOULD bar their appointment.

    November 27, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  16. Michael, Houston, TX

    Imagine if the US was an Islamic State. Mitt would be getting at least 40 lashes.

    November 27, 2007 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  17. Fred, Walla Walla, WA

    I'm so sick of all Moslems. They are evil and are going to be the downfall of our society. As soon as the Moslems in the United States take an oath saying that terrorism is wrong and that September 11th should not have happened then I will speak to one again.

    November 27, 2007 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  18. A Simmons, Clinton, MD

    so CNN, what is your agenda??

    As Romney said, "I would appoint whomever is most qualified"

    There is no news here, just twisted quotes and misinformation!

    November 27, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  19. Tyson, Provo, Utah

    he obviously didn't mean it the way the media is playing it out. Give him a break, he seems like a good guy and would make a great President (especially compared to Hillary!)

    November 27, 2007 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  20. Walt, Belton, TX

    I wouldn't vote for anybody because they were mormon, black, white or muslim. I'd just like to have a chance to vote for someone who I can respect and trust!

    November 27, 2007 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  21. Robert, Shelton, CT

    If Mitt Romney did say this it is disgraceful...look at how many Jews have served and the only represent a small number of the population, there are more gays than jews and have they served cabinet posts; give me a break, if they are good for the job appoint them, don't do it based on numbers; I thought we as a nation knew better than this.

    November 27, 2007 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  22. Sam

    This is a journalistic hack job. The questioner is trying to make a name for himself. The guy asks a question "Would you give a Muslim a job b/c he is Muslim and might therefore understand terrorists better" And Romney says, no cabinet positions based upon affirmative action...merit applicants only.

    November 27, 2007 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  23. Brad, Lincoln NE

    maybe you should attempt to listen to what romney says before you start calling him racist, a weasel, a liar, etc... he responded to this story by saying he said it was not required to have a Muslim on the Cabinet. where's the controversy? FDR/Truman didn't appoint a Japanese, German, or Italian citizen to their staff in WWII did they?

    November 27, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  24. Zong Tshuank, Chicago, Illinois

    In all honesty, I am not prejudiced against muslims, but muslims for some odd reason have a hard time fixing whats in their backyard. In the U.S. they do very well, but still many of them absolutely hate the west yet would die if they had leave back to the middle east.

    November 27, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  25. Ryan, Oakland, CA

    This is stupid. I'm a democrat and not a Romney supporter, but Romney clearly did not say that he wouldn't appoint a Muslim to his cabinet. He said that he didn't think it was necessary to appoint a Muslim. He's saying that he'd base his decisions off of qualifications and not religious affiliation, not the other way around. The media, and people with poor reading comprehension, are just twisting this to make an interesting story.

    November 27, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
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