Last week, the right-wing group Stop Islamization of America announced that former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich was a “confirmed” speaker for the group’s September 11th protest against the proposed Park 51 Islamic center near ground zero, in New York City. Other speakers included former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, right-wing media tycoon Andrew Breitbart, and, notably, the far-right Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders, best known for his self-described “hate” towards Islam.
Last week, however, Gingrich spokesperson Joe DeSantis told Politico that the Gingrich — who has been an outspoken opponent of the Islamic center — “is not scheduled to be at this rally. He is not speaking.” DeSantis said Gingrich’s staff had only agreed to send a video message, not make an appearance, but that too has now been canceled, but Gingrich won’t say why:
But a spokesman for Gingrich, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, told The Hill that the former leader of the House had never confirmed his appearance. Instead, one of Gingrich’s staff had agreed to send a video message from him to be shown at the Sept. 11 rally.
That has since been canceled.
“The confusion is at least partially our fault,” said Joe DeSantis, a spokesman for Gingrich. “A staff member mistakenly promised a video message, though not an appearance. However, we are not sending a video. We informed them earlier this week.”
DeSantis did not comment on why Gingrich was no longer planning to send a video message to the rally, and attempts to contact the organizers of the rally were unsuccessful.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is also listed on the event’s website as an “invited speaker,” but a spokesman for King said he was not planning to attend because he “will have so many 9/11 commemorations [to attend] in his district.” King has also spoken out against the Islamic center, but his rhetoric has been more temperated than Gingrich’s, and he even publicly condemned the former Speaker for “making a Nazi comparison” about the center. “It was wrong,” King said of Gingrich’s comment that the center’s organizers are “radical Islamists” who are seeking “supremacy,” much like “Nazis.”
However, protesters will still hear from Wilders, who tweeted, “I booked a flight and a hotel. Great feeling. Important speech. No one can stop me. No mosque at ground zero!” On Wilders’ website, he touts the would-be appearance with Gingrich, calling the duo “two eagles” who will come together to heighten awareness and stop the mosque.