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. Ryan

    There are only a couple of options here. Either Ijaz or Ijaz is lying. Or there was simply a misunderstanding about the question being asked.

    Either way, I think I agree that the lack of video or audio recording favors Romney's account of the exchange.

    And he has clearly stated his intention of not limiting anyone from his cabinet based on race or religion.

    November 28, 2007 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  2. B, Texas

    Why is religion being confused with ethnicity in this article? Islam is not an ethnicity.

    And I'm confused as to how exactly McCain is "taking aim" at Romney.

    Romney said: "I would choose people based upon their merits and their capabilities"

    McCain said: "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."

    Wow! So they agree! McCain's quip is a sign of desperation for a campaign that has been going downhill since it's announcement. Just drop out John.

    November 28, 2007 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  3. Mark, Dallas, PA

    Actually, had Roosevelt had a Japanese American on the cabinet, then maybe this country would not have pursued one of the most outlandish unconstitutional violations of human rights this country has ever approved...

    Nevertheless, Romney's comment using Japanese Americans and his rather convoluted justification is probably indicative of his convoluted, confused and misdirected thinking.

    His response should have been "I would look for people who are the most qualified to address the issues of the American people." It was that simple, but instead he gave some racially charged diatribe... you ought to be scared of this guy!

    November 28, 2007 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  4. Kyle, Fort Smith, AR

    Why do we care about offending Muslims when the militant part of that group insults everybody else across the board? Why not create 1000 new special interest groups and further muck up the USA? Eat pork towel heads.

    November 28, 2007 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  5. AngryLiberal, Washington DC

    And without a Japanese American in the Cabinet in WWII we got Korematsu and the concentration camps of Japanese Americans (next to or nearby the concentration camps containing Native Americans, that still exist) and a Supreme Court that was willing to go along with it.

    November 28, 2007 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  6. Zeus, Racine, WI

    Hold it. Don't ALL REPUBLICANS – especially those from the GREAT STATE OF TEXAS – only appoint the MOST QUALIFIED PEOPLE to political positions?

    "You're doing a fine job Brownie!"

    November 28, 2007 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  7. Susan, NC via LA

    Um, Mitt, wouldn't you think that the best decision would be to appoint the best-qualified person to the position, regardless of religion? Oh, wait, that would be sensible!

    November 28, 2007 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  8. MJ Kentucky

    Funny...McCain didn't read all of Romney's comment apparently because it looks like they were saying the same thing.

    November 28, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  9. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Well I'm not sure what else Romney can to do to hurt himself in the primaries. Can I vote for none of the above this election?

    Posted By Jason, Seattle, WA : November 27, 2007 6:44 pm

    Sure – vote Democratic.

    November 28, 2007 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  10. Saeedah, Lanham, Maryland

    Romney's statement was very stupid and ridiculous.
    Maybe if we did have a Japanese American advisor during WWII, maybe would would not have put so many Japanese Americans in intern-camps. Maybe we would have decided against the Atomic bomb on Japan "those" people.
    Romney is racist, and Muslims have been here since antebellum.
    I think that he should look for qualified Muslims and Japanese to be part of his Cabinet.
    Is Romney going to fill the Cabinet with all Mormons, I think even Christians have different view points on their faith.

    November 28, 2007 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  11. Jeremy, Phoenix, Arizona

    People who think Romney's comments are racist are the same people who thought Bin Laden was a nice guy in the 80's.

    November 28, 2007 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  12. James Hetfield, Fort Lauderdale FL

    Based on their population? Do you know your census Mr. Romney? You being from a Mormon faith which is the minority should 've been more understanding of other faiths. Shame on you Mr. Romney.

    November 28, 2007 08:24 am at 8:24 am |


    November 28, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  14. Greg, Minneapolis, MN

    This is a non-story. If you read the full story, you'll see that his comment makes total sense. It seems he has purposefully been misquoted to generate controversy. The author should be ashamed.

    November 28, 2007 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  15. EB Rideout, Georgia

    Food fight in the GOP sandbox.

    How messy.

    Both of these buffoons are going nowhere.

    November 28, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  16. Wayne Messer Orange Park, FL

    All religions are idiotic and to mandate a believe in an imaginary being is inane.

    Worse is how it is shoved down everyone’s throat.

    When did it become mandatory for these morons to have to pander to right-wing nut jobs.

    Have you ever noticed the liberals they hate never, ever try and tell grown-ups how to live yet the religious fanatics and you know who you are any of you think they are the only ones the moral high ground.

    Even though they are the ones being picked up for being gay or running with prostitutes.

    It would be funny if it was not so sad but, I am sure some lunatic will kill me because you can never question holy-rollerism.

    November 28, 2007 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  17. Joe G, Washington, DC

    But would he consult the First Ladies when considering potential members of his cabinet?

    November 28, 2007 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  18. Brad, from the great state of Texas

    So quick most of you are to start calling Romney a "racist"; however, do you really know what was said? It sounds like Romney said one thing and it was interpreted to mean something else– it's called a miscommunication, and it happens all the time.

    Maybe you haters should consider BOTH sides of the story instead of automatically labeling him a racist just because he's a white, Christian male... I guess I'm asking too much from some of you school children!

    November 28, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  19. M. LaLena, Washington, DC

    Romney is right. You pick a person for what he can do, what he knows and how he will go about it. Not because he is muslim, catholic or anything else. If people don't like,suck it in. It's your abilities that count, not what you are.

    November 28, 2007 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  20. John Iowa City, Iowa

    What did you expect from a MORMAN.

    November 28, 2007 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  21. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    I think I can take Romney's explanation of his answer to the question at face value. I'm still not going to vote for him tho.

    November 28, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  22. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    This is bad publicy to Romney. I don't think america is ready for a Mormon president at this time.

    Posted By jay, sherman oaks CA : November 27, 2007 7:25 pm

    "jay", can you read or write or are they not teaching those things in California anymore?

    This muslim liar is trying to make something out of nothing as is McCain and CNN, must mean Romney is doing something right.

    Heaven forbid we base appointments on who is most qualified, I don't want another 4 YEARS of Bush hirings that got done because they were buddies.

    If the person HAPPENS to be a woman or a minority and is the best qualified ROMNEY WILL HIRE THEM, is that a bad thing after 8 years of Bush?

    As for us "not being ready for a Mormon President", not sure what that has to do with the given subject, but people who can't read or write do indeed have "closed minds".

    November 28, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  23. MPR, Texas

    The dem's have come up with another unstory that their news outlet is trying to make into an issue. It's all ex nihilo.

    November 28, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  24. DFinFL

    The sad part of the story is that a significant percentage of America is more than willing to discriminate against all Muslims and a large percentage of politicians are more than willing to placate those "voters".

    November 28, 2007 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. Bob, Denver, CO

    This is a complete joke. Romney said he would pick people based on merit, not on religious belief. McCain said the same thing. Is everyone on Crack?

    November 28, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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