Just a few months ago, Robert Marro was singing Herman Cain’s praises. Now he’s as cynical about the rapidly collapsing Republican presidential insider as a DC political reporter.
Marro’s story is similar to many, except for one thing: He’s one of the Muslims who helped rehabilitate Cain’s image after the Cain tried step down as the Pied Piper of Islamophobia.
Back in July, Cain visited the ADAMS Center, a Northern Virginia mosque where Marro serves as a trustee. This followed months of Cain beating the drum that Muslims in this country were to be feared and don’t deserve the same rights as other religious Americans.
After the meeting, Cain said he emerged a changed man, more open-minded about the faith he admitted to knowing little about before the visit. Marro told TPM Cain was telling the truth.
“He seemed genuinely surprised,” Marro said at the time. “It was almost like he was saying, ‘I should’ve known better.’”
That ended Monday, when Cain went right back to where he once belonged: freaking out America about its Muslim residents. And once again, he lost Marro (who, for the record, never said he was voting for Cain, and spoke only to the veracity of his apology.)
Check out this passage from Cain’s interview with GQ:
Devin Gordon: What did you think about the fuss around your comments about Muslims. [Cain said in March that, if elected, he wouldn’t feel “comfortable” appointing a Muslim to his cabinet] Did you think that you were treated fairly in that conversation?
Herman Cain: No, because a lot of people misrepresented what I said. I know that there are peaceful Muslims, and there are extremists. I have nothing against peaceful Muslims. Nothing whatsoever. But I also know that we must be careful of extremists and we must be careful of the tendency by some groups in this country to infuse their beliefs into our laws and our culture.
Devin Gordon: Do you think that there is a greater tendency among the Muslim faith for that kind of extremism?
Herman Cain: That would be a judgment call that I’m probably not qualified to make, because I can’t speak on behalf of the entire Muslim community. I have talked with Muslims that are peaceful Muslims. And I have had one very well known Muslim voice say to me directly that a majority of Muslims share the extremist views.
Chris Heath: A majority?
Herman Cain: Yes, a majority.
Devin Gordon: Do you think he’s right?
Herman Cain: Yes, because that’s his community. That’s his community. I can’t tell you his name, but he is a very prominent voice in the Muslim community, and he said that.
Chris Heath: I just find that hard to believe.
Herman Cain: I find it hard to believe.
Chris Heath: But you’re believing it?
Herman Cain: Yes, because of the respect that I have for this individual. Because when he told me this, he said he wouldn’t want to be quoted or identified as having said that.
Alan Richman: Are you talking about the Muslim community in America? Or the world?
Herman Cain: America. America.
Asked to comment, Marro grew cynical.
“I guess things are different when you’re the frontrunner,” he told TPM Monday. Marro said he still thought Cain’s sentiments back in July were genuine and Cain was “honestly telling the truth” when he said he’d changed his opinion. But Marro said Cain clearly feels he needs to backslide now the the first primary vote draws near.
“His status among the nominees has increased, the primaries are getting closer, and closer, and people are going to try to appeal more and more to the base of voters who will come out,” Marro said.”The people who will turn out will be the people with the kind of views that would be stoked by statements like [Cain’s in GQ].”
Though Cain — a Baptist preacher — was invited to speak at ADAMS services after his visit, Marro said that after he spent time at the mosque in July staff never heard from him again. Marro said the invitation still stands.
As for Cain’s contention that Muslims think the majority of their fellow believers in America are extremists, Marro was not amused.
“To claim that all Muslims say [that the majority of Muslims are extremists], it’s just ridiculous,” he said.