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. N. Wisconsin

    This is absolutely ridiculous! Governor Romney and John McCain are saying the same thing. Both would appoint based on qualifications. That reporter should have gotten his facts correct before even asking the question to McCain! He didn't even know the comments Romney had made or the context they were in. It's stories like these that start rummors and then you get people starting to believe things that are not true. I'm surpised this was even written. Shame on that reporter!

    November 27, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  2. Nehemiah, Kansas City MO

    I think the way Romney answered the question was wrong regardless of his actual beliefs. Using the racism and bigotry of a past era of American society to justify the racism and bigotry of our current era is deeply troubling.

    November 27, 2007 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. Jaden Bock, Pioneer CA

    Mansour, You wish to be mainstream instead of "minority" yet where have you and your kind beem during our direst hour of need in publicly denouncing the actions of your "extremist" brethren for their blatant attacks on civilized society. Oh, I'm sorry I forgot- only in the MUslim faith can you kill and still go to "heaven" and your misdeeds are rewarded with eternal merits. Being a "minor" and hiding behind the veil of ambiguity was acceptable then. If you want to be mainstream then be man enough to publicly denounce the errors of your brethren's ways,as did the late great Pope John Paul II when he openly denounced the sins of his forefathers during the Spanish Inquisition. Then accept and adopt to american culture and society and be tolerant of other faiths. Then, you can be mainstream.

    November 27, 2007 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. Steve Miller, Austin, Texas

    Morman VS Muslim- Both are Anti-Christian- and won't win so what is all the hype about!

    November 27, 2007 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  5. puzzled

    jay, sherman oaks CA:

    What in hell does Romney's statement have to do with his faith? If you don't have the concept, please don't comment.

    November 27, 2007 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  6. John, Chicago, IL

    When you actually read the response Romney gave to the baited question about cabinet members, you can see his response is very reasonable. I don't think you need to worry about if Romney understands what it's like to be a member of a religious minority and still be judged based on one's performance and ability.

    November 27, 2007 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  7. Dale Davis, Glendora, California

    This just sounds like a cunningly placed dirt clod by the Clinton camp, in order to create doubt about a truly honest and upright individual, let alone an extremely capable candidate with a very high IQ and organizational skills to get us back to economic greatness. Hillary is scared to death of running against Romney because he really doesn't have any REAL skeletons in his closet. Therefore, they have to resort to throwing trip wires out to the public. The sad state of affairs in this country is such that many people are beginning to disdain good people who strive to live exemplary lives. I hope the well-informed people in this country get the facts straight. Politics is sooooooo dirty!

    November 27, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  8. Robert SouthHampton NY

    If I am not mistaken i do believe Romney said he would "choose people based upon their merits and their capabilities." So why is McCain saying, “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.” McCain's statement is redundant in this situation, did Romney not say he would choose based on merit not race or religion?

    November 27, 2007 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  9. Chris, Lansing MI

    Silliness. Just mud-slinging by the media and a failed opponent.

    Unfortunately, Americans as a whole buy into this kind of baloney. Take Jay, a poster from CA above me, for example. "America isn't ready for a mormon president." Is that really the intellectual level that we're "ok" with in this election? Good grief.

    November 27, 2007 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  10. Nick Mangigian, Ann Arbor, MI

    "Did we need to have a Japanese-American in the cabinet during the second world war?"

    Um, actually, we might not have degraded and stolen from Japanese-Americans by putting them in internment camps, had they had an advocate in the cabinet. Or at least somebody with common sense, or something resembling a conscience.

    What a dumb analogy for Romney to use.

    November 27, 2007 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  11. Daniel, NY

    Romney got even more bad news when a new Florida poll was released this afternoon that has Huckabee surging to second place behind Giuliani... confirming that his surge is real, and coming at Romney's expense.

    November 27, 2007 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  12. Jim, NY

    Whats the problem? What he said makes perfect sense. The reporter asking McCain the question twisted the report.

    November 27, 2007 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  13. Ryan, Oakland, CA

    Please read the whole article before posting people! Are we to that stage now where people won't even get to the end of a short blog post before firming up their opinions?

    November 27, 2007 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  14. Robert Johnson

    Cannot stand McCain. Always criticizing other people, but he accomplishes so little. Says republicans spend like drunken sailors, but then does he provide leadership? Take away the fiscal keys. No, republicans keep spending. His state (Arizona) has a huge illegal alien problem but McCain held up legislation for years saying couldn't secure borders until we had a guest worker program. Ooops, now 14 million illegals in US. He wants to send troops to Iraq but not our own borders. Drives me nuts.

    November 27, 2007 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  15. Ann Cameron

    ....Yet HE SEEMS to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion...

    SEEMS like a journalistic stretch.

    Is there so much demand for stories that we need to manufacture controversies??? We're not fools!!

    November 28, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  16. Sean, Plains MT

    Mansoor Ijaz: Is it necessary for Osama Bin Laden et al. to have a Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Methodist, Jew, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, Anglican, Evangilical, Jehovah's Witness, Quaker, and Atheist, and so on, to part of his cabinet in order to confront America and allies?

    November 28, 2007 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  17. Tom Wilson, Houston, TX

    I don't understand the headline. How can Romney "take heat" for things he did not say?

    All these politicians do is you really need to put words in their mouth?

    November 28, 2007 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  18. T, Fort Worth

    I think I'll make a fake Q & A too (the one that is drawing 'fire'), and help more of the hidden agendas out there...

    November 28, 2007 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  19. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    What Romney meant to say was that he would not appoint a Muslim to his Cabinet just because they are Muslim.
    Now that would jive with what Romney has been saying on the campaign trail.

    November 28, 2007 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  20. Anonymous

    This is ridiculous. Romney wasn't saying he wouldn't hire a Muslim to his Cabinet, he was only saying it wasn't necessary. He simply wants the most qualified candidates, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or maybe even...Mormon.

    November 28, 2007 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  21. Steve, Lovelock, Nevada

    Your front page headline says that Romney is "under attack for Muslim comment."

    Under attack from who? One guy says he heard him say something, Romney says he didn't say it. There is no independent evidence that Romney said it, but CNN the CNN headline reports the comment being made as fact.

    But there is no bias in the media.

    What a joke. What a non-story.

    November 28, 2007 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  22. Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

    Romney's statements were no accident. Romney's comments are the type of comments that make most moderate Americans leary of this candidate.

    And, as for McCain, I have to feel a bit bad for the guy. As with other posters, I didn't think he was running anymore.

    November 28, 2007 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  23. D Nelson, Phoenix, AZ

    I see everyone jumping to all kinds of incorrect conclusions here...I watched his comments and he was saying EXACTLY the same thing as McCain. Everyone loves to get on an immediate rant on how someone is racist when he was talking about getting someone with the right qualifications. No wonder you idiots end up electing other idiots to run the country. Stop listening to the soundbites and listen to the candidates themselves.

    November 28, 2007 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  24. Rod, New York City

    This is the same guy who told a sick man in a wheelchair he wouldn't help him get medicinal marijuana even though he needed it to function.

    I've ruled everyone out except for Thompson and Paul. Let's hope one of those two doesn't turn out to be a total disappointment like Romney.

    November 28, 2007 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  25. J Seattle WA

    Romney may or may not be a bigot, but there are many more reasons than not to avoid a vote for Romney.

    November 28, 2007 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
1 2 3 4 5