Herman Cain Walks Back His Rhetoric About Muslims

June 18, 2011 4:04 p.m.

MINNEAPOLIS — On the one hand, Herman Cain is prepared to tell anyone who asks that he’ll take “extra precautions” to assure that a potential Muslim appointee is not, in fact, bent on the destruction of the United States.

On the other hand, he doesn’t mean that at all.At a press conference following his speech at the RightOnline conference here Saturday night, Cain expressed frustration that the quote he gave ThinkProgress about not appointing Muslims to his administration is still haunting him.

Cain said the first thing that came to his mind when he got the question was violent Muslims. Cain made it clear that he would treat applicants for his administration differently if they were from the Muslim faith, based on the fact that they could, in fact, be terrorists.

“I am not anti-Muslim,” he said. “I am anti-terrorist. And so my statement has been misconstrued several times, I’ve even been called a bigot because I expressed a desire to be cautious if I were to consider a Muslim for my administration. That was the intent of [the answer to ThinkProgress].”

Cain explained his reasoning:

Because I’m thinking from the perspective of what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said when I first heard him two or three months after 9/11/01. Number one, he said, terrorism is going to last a long time, and number two, America’s got to learn that they — the terrorists, the jihadists — they want to kill all of us.

“So, no, I’m not going to play nicey nice and say that I’m not going to take extra precautions in order to be able that make sure that we can do our job,” Cain said.

Then, under questioning from TPM, he walked all of that back. TPM asked what the special precautions might be, specifically.

“If you’re trying to make me lose my cool, you are almost succeeding,” Cain said, his voice rising. “I never said I would use any special precautions!”

OK, then, TPM followed up: “So a Muslim applies to be in the administration, he gets in like anybody else?”

“Yes,” Cain said.

Late Update: Here’s video of Cain’s opening statement about Muslims, and then his walkback under questioning from TPM:

Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Senior Newswriter:
Editor at Large:
General Manager & General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: