Herman Cain: ‘People are trying to push me in a corner’ on Muslim comments

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Potential 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain told The Daily Caller that he’s tired of media figures distorting his comments. He’s come under fire of late for saying he wouldn’t be comfortable appointing a Muslim to a cabinet position or recommending one for a federal judgeship.

Following an Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) luncheon on Wednesday afternoon, Cain told TheDC “quite frankly, I’m sick of people trying to take me somewhere that I’m not there.”

“People are trying to push me in a corner or they’re trying to get me to retract my statement but it keeps getting blown more and more and more out of context and I’m going to use that, quite frankly, against the media,” Cain said.

Cain pointed to Time Magazine reporter Jay Newton-Small, who asked him at the ATR lunch if he still supported the idea, as she put it, that he “wouldn’t hire Muslims in the government if you were president” and  “wouldn’t hire Catholics.” Cain answered, “No, that is not true. I’m on the record, I’ve already addressed this, so please, let’s not go down this path again. I never mentioned the word Catholic.”

Newton-Small replied, “I never asked you about it,” to which Cain replied, “this information is floating around out there. I never brought up Catholics or Jews or Italians.” Newton-Small asked again: “Well, okay, what is your stance: Would you hire people [whose] allegiance to the pope was above their allegiance to the Constitution?”

Cain answered that he would, “hire people who are dedicated to the Constitution of the United States of America, period. That’s where I’m coming from. I happen to be a Baptist, but I happen to be an American, black conservative. The Constitution is what I would make decisions based upon and enforce the laws of this nation.”

Still not satisfied, Newton-Small followed up with, “So, would you or would you not hire Muslims in the government?” Cain answered, “which type of Muslim?”

“There’s a terrorist element out there that I would not hire,” Cain said. “I’m not going to hire Jihadists and I’m not going to hire Muslim terrorists.” But, Cain said he would hire other, non-extreme Muslims if he were assured, “they would put the Constitution of the United States of America first.”

Newton-Small asked if there, “would be a test for that?” Cain said, “No, there wouldn’t be a test. And, here’s the other thing, I told you all that I am not going to be politically correct. As president of the United States, do you know how many problems we’ve got that I’d need to worry about rather than providing some sort of litmus test?”

Cain told TheDC that there’s an “element that’s trying to drag me where I’m not,” Cain said. “I’m trying to drag the American people down straight street.”

The Muslim staffing question became an issue for Cain when left-wing bloggers at ThinkProgress, the web publishing arm of John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, published a video in which one of Podesta’s activists asked Cain if he would feel “comfortable” putting a Muslim in his cabinet or appointing one to a federal judgeship. Cain said, “no.” The ThinkProgress video came after media criticized a comment on Muslims’ role in America that he gave to Christianity Today.