Quran-burning pastor says he’s not as smart as Herman Cain, but seriously entering presidential race

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer

“I am not anywhere as intelligent as a Herman Cain,” Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones told The Daily Caller. “But as a I listened to [the presidential candidates], they are not letting the American people know the condition that we are in.”

That is why Jones says he entered the race to become president last week. Since he doesn’t see anyone expressing the urgency of fixing the economy, he says he is compelled to bear that cross.

“I don’t feel as though they are telling the American people the truth as far as far as what type of condition that we are in,” Jones explained. “Our country is facing bankruptcy … we are way beyond an easy fix.”

During every presidential election season, quixotic candidates enter the race for the White House hoping to raise an issue of concern or enhance their profile. You have your Morry Taylors, your Mike Gravels, your Buddy Roemers.

But every so often, if America is truly fortunate, a candidate enters the race who is so bizarre, so astoundingly unqualified, so jaw-droppingly preposterous, that for one golden moment, a Herman Cain-ish smirk can’t help but to slowly envelop your face as you read the press release announcing their candidacy.

And so it is with the Gainesville pastor. Jones made headlines in 2010 when he announced that his church with under 100 members would incinerate a Quran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The announcement of his “International Burn a Koran Day” set off an international fury, prompting riots throughout the Muslim world. While Jones refrained from setting matches to Muhammad’s revelation on 9/11, he ultimately put the Quran on trial several months later. Unsurprisingly, the Quran was found guilty and sentenced to a fiery death.

But Jones says he isn’t much focusing on such issues with his White House campaign. (RELATED: Quran-burning pastor ready to set presidential field ablaze)

“My main concern at this particular time is really our tremendous debt crisis that we have and that our government continues to overspend,” he said.

Which, incidentally, seems to be among the reasons why he opposes the Occupy Wall Street types

“I think it is ridiculous,” he said. “It is another gimme gimme my name is Jimmy. Pay for my school. Pay for my social job. Pay for this. Pay for this. Pay for this.”

When asked why Americans should want someone with no significant political, business or military experience as president, Jones said the characterization wasn’t exactly true: He once managed a hotel.

“Your information is not totally correct,” he said. “I started and ran a few successful businesses. In fact, before I was a pastor I was a hotel manager and in the last 20 or 30 years we have established 2 or 3 actually pretty successful businesses.”

But, he conceded, “I have a very limited amount of experience, yes.”

Jones may be selling himself short, however. He was no ordinary hotel manager.

“I worked for a prominent company,” he explained. “I was a type of district manager when they had trouble at other hotels. And all of the people who were to be trained as managers were sent to my hotel for me to train them.”

Asked to name the businesses he owns that do “quite well,” Jones said he preferred not to — he isn’t, after all, running on a platform calling for increased transparency.

“I would actually not like to name them … because what people actually try to do, people who do not like me, they actually try to destroy them,” he said.

One would imagine a candidate with such limited relevant experience would enter the race for the White House with a detailed agenda he could pitch to the American people. But the seven promises Jones put forth in his press release don’t exactly inspire confidence that he has a detailed vision. When asked exactly how he would “deport all illegals,” as he has pledged to do, it became clear Jones hadn’t really gamed the scenario out.

“They would be rounded up and deported,” he said. “I believe that happened during the Eisenhower administration in order to create more jobs for the military that is coming back.”

When pressed, explaining that even immigration hawks recognize the unviability of mass deportations, Jones said he would probably just start with Los Angeles.

“We could just start there, in Los Angeles, 12 percent of the population is illegal,” he said.

Would he have law enforcement knock on the door of every Los Angeles resident asking for papers or just focus on people who look Hispanic?

“I don’t know. I think I would first, because of limited man power, I think I would first go to the Hispanic community because that is most of the illegals are coming from,” he said.

Some might suspect that this would violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution which prohibits the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. You need probable cause, no?

“The reasonable suspicion that I would have is what I said — you have 12 percent of Los Angeles is supposedly illegal,” Jones retorted.

Though Jones says he wants to remove all American troops from abroad and cut the military budget in half, he also wants a clear declaration by the United States to Iran — which he repeatedly called “Iraq” in the interview — that we won’t allow the Islamic Republic to mess with Israel.

“As far as foreign countries go I think we should send them, especially like Iraq with all the mouthing off he does, I think we could send these people a very clear message as far as their threatening to attack Israel and all of those kind of things,” he said. “I think we must take a little bit clearer stand.”

And who clearer to enunciate such a stand than Pastor Terry Jones?

Despite being known as America’s most recognizable Quran burner, Jones said the kerosene would not be flowing like water at the White House.

“No, of course not, of course not, of course not,” he said emphatically when asked whether he would host public Quran burnings at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. “We don’t have anything against Muslims here in America who are loving, who honor and obey the Constitution of the United States.”

Contra common sense, Jones says his presidential run is in no way a publicity stunt. He no longer has daily responsibilities at his church since he turned the reigns over to his son and he is working on getting on the ballot in all 50 states. He is running as a “non-party affiliate” and says he plans to campaign all around the country.

“I feel a real urgency to warn the American people, hopefully to motivate the American people,” he said. “The Constitution says ‘we the people,’ not we the politicians.”

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