During the New Hampshire GOP Primary Debate, Herman Cain attempted to backtrack on his earlier statement that he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet, claiming he was taken out of context.
Q: Are American Muslims as a group less dedicated to the Constitution than say Christians or Jews?
CAIN: First, the statement, would I be comfortable with a Muslim in my administration, not that I wouldn't appoint one. That's the exact transcript. And I would not be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims, those that are trying to kill us. And so when I said I wouldn't be comfortable, I was thinking about the ones that are trying to kill us, number one.
Secondly, yes, I do not believe in Sharia law in American courts. I believe in American laws in American courts. Period. There have been instances where... there have been instances in New Jersey. There was an instance in Oklahoma where Muslims did try to influence court decisions with Sharia law. I was simply saying very emphatically, American laws in American courts.
KING: And so on that point, Governor Romney let me come to you on this subject. What Mr. Cain is saying, that he would have, my term, not his, a purity test or a loyalty test. He would want to ask a Muslim a question or a few questions before he hired them. But he wouldn't ask those questions of a Christian or a Jew...
CAIN: Sorry. You are restating something that I did not say. Okay? If I may.
KING: Please, let's make it clear.
CAIN: When you interview a person for a job, you look at their work record, you look at their resume and then you have a one on one personal interview. During that personal interview, like in the business world or anywhere else, you are able get a feeling for how committed that person is to the Constitution, how committed they are to the mission of your organization...
KING: But when I asked you this question the other night though, you said that you would want to ask the Muslim those questions, but you didn't think you would have to ask them to a Christian or a Jew.
CAIN: I would ask certain questions John. And it's not a litmus test. It is simply trying to make sure that we have people committed to the Constitution, in order for them to work effectively in an administration.
Romney responded by saying:
Of course we're not going to have Sharia law applied in U.S. courts. That's never going to happen. We have a constitution and we follow the law. No, I think we recognize that the people of all faiths are welcome in this country, our nation was founded on a principal of religious tolerance. That's in fact why some of the early patriots came to this country and we treat people with respect...with their religious persuasion.
Not to be outdone by Cain, Newt Gingrich followed up by doubling down on the Muslim bashing fearmongering.
For the record, here's what Cain did say via Think Progress -- EXCLUSIVE: Herman Cain Tells ThinkProgress ‘I Will Not’ Appoint A Muslim In My Administration:
Earlier this week, Cain gave an interview to Christianity Today in which he declared that, “based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them.”
ThinkProgress caught up with the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza today at the Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, to discuss his comments further. We asked him, in light of his statements on Islam, would he be comfortable appointing any Muslims in his administration. Rather than skirting the question or hedging his answer, as most presidential aspirants are wont to do, Cain was definitive: “No, I will not”:
KEYES: You came under a bit of controversy this week for some of the comments made about Muslims in general. Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?
CAIN: No, I will not. And here’s why. There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government. This is what happened in Europe. And little by little, to try and be politically correct, they made this little change, they made this little change. And now they’ve got a social problem that they don’t know what to do with hardly.
The question that was asked that “raised some questions” and, as my grandfather said, “I does not care, I feel the way I feel.” I was asked, “what is the role of Islam in America?” I thought it was an odd question. I said the role of Islam in America is for those that believe in Islam to practice it and leave us alone. Just like Christianity. We have a First Amendment. And I get upset when the Muslims in this country, some of them, try to force their Sharia law onto the rest of us.