A spokesman for AAI, Omar Tewfik, contrasted Daniels' relationship with the Arab-American community with other potential candidates in the 2012 primaries in a post on the group's website.
"Gov. Daniels piques our interest not only because he is Arab American (his grandparents are from Syria), he is a politician who - even in today's hyper-partisan political climate - has not digressed from his primary focus; fixing the economy," he wrote. "He has insisted that other issues not become a distraction and has not pandered to the anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sentiments expressed by many other potential GOP presidential candidates."
Asked about the GOP field, Tewfik told TPM that one area of particular importance to the group was the debate over Park 51 community center. AAI put out report cards grading public figures on their rhetoric on the issue and gave Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin their lowest rating, indicating "anti-Muslim sentiment in opposing the construction of the Muslim community center" and including "individuals who imply that those behind Park51 are pro-terrorist extremists."
Past winners of the Najeeby Halaby award, named after the former airline executive and father of Jordan's Queen Noor, include Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Congressman Nick Rahall. Daniels' paternal grandparents immigrated from Syria.