ThinkProgress filed this report from Urbandale, Iowa.
The defining moment of former pizza executive Herman Cain’s upstart presidential bid came in March when he told ThinkProgress that he would not be comfortable appointing Muslims in his administration. The exact question I asked Cain was: “Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?” To which, he responded, “No, I will not.” (Imposing a religious test is patently unconstitutional.)
On Monday, ThinkProgress attended Cain’s Iowa headquarters opening. During an interview with the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, BBC’s Matthew Wells brought up the subject of Cain’s refusal to appoint Muslims. Cain offered up a revisionist history of his exchange with ThinkProgress, saying, “That wasn’t a statement I made. Let’s get it right. I was asked if I would be comfortable, and my response was I would not be comfortable with a terrorist in my cabinet”:
WELLS: You said you wouldn’t have a Muslim in your cabinet two weeks ago. Is that still your position?
CAIN: That wasn’t a statement I made. Let’s get it right. I was asked if I would be comfortable, and my response was I would not be comfortable with a terrorist in my cabinet. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but a lot of the terrorists are Muslims, so I just have to be real careful about who I put in my cabinet.
This is hardly the first time Cain has spun the matter. Here is a complete timeline of Cain’s evolving position on appointing Muslims in his administration:
– March 26: Herman Cain told ThinkProgress he would not be comfortable appointing Muslims either in his cabinet or as a federal judge.
– March 28: Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael walked back the candidate’s words, saying “Mr. Cain would consider any person for a position based on merit, as anybody else would, as is the law.” Cain himself later disavowed his pledge on Fox News.
– April 1: Cain told the Orlando Sun Sentinel that he would only be willing to appoint a Muslim who disavowed Sharia law, but “he’s unaware of any Muslim who’d be willing to make such a disavowal.”
– April 18: Cain went on noted Islamophobe Bryan Fischer’s radio show to reaffirm his discomfort with Muslims in his administration. “I do know that most of the people of the Muslim faith, they believe in Sharia law,” Cain told Fischer. The former pizza executive went on to downplay those who would call him a bigot, saying, “I think I’ve got a right to say what I want.”
– May 24: After being questioned on Glenn Beck’s radio show, Cain tried to argue that he would appoint Muslims in spite of his discomfort, saying, “I immediately said – without thinking – ‘No, I would not be comfortable.’ I did not say that I would not have them in my cabinet.”
– June 8: Appearing on Glenn Beck’s TV show, Cain repeated that he would not be comfortable with Muslim appointees but he “didn’t say I wouldn’t appoint one.” However, Cain went further, saying he would require a special loyalty oath for Muslim appointees, but would not require Catholics or Mormons to take it.
– June 13: Cain told ThinkProgress that he would not ask job applicants their religion. He did not elaborate on how he planned to administer a special loyalty oath to Muslim appointees without asking their religion.
– July 11: In an interview with the BBC, Cain tried to revise the original Muslim appointee question-and-answer, saying, “My response was I would not be comfortable with a terrorist in my cabinet.” For reference, the exact question (to which he responded “no”) was “Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?”