Newt Gingrich, in the midst of a headlong dash to the right in at attempt to unify the conservative vote behind him in advance of Saturday’s South Carolina primary, took a page from the Herman Cain playbook in South Carolina Tuesday, laying out his conditions for supporting a hypothetical Muslim candidate for president.
Muslims who want to run for the nation’s highest office and get Gingrich’s support had better prove they’re not a “mortal threat” to the United States by publicly rejecting sharia, the Muslim legal code that Cain (and many conservatives) have warned is creeping into the American legal system.
Gingrich was asked if he could vote for a Muslim for president at an event in South Carolina.
His answer: “I think it would entirely depend if they give up shari’a. I am totally opposed to shari’a law,” Gingrich said.
Anything else and the candidate would literally be an existential threat to the United States.
“If they are a modern person integrated into the modern world and prepared to recognize all religions that’s one thing,” Gingrich explained. “If they are the Saudis who demand that we respect them while they refuse to allow either a Jew or Christian to worship in Saudi Arabia, that’s something different.”
I think we need a president who stands up, tells the truth, and rejects any kind of effort to impose on us a sense of guilt because we believe in our religion and we are prepared to tell the truth and I am totally opposed to a State Department meeting a week ago with the organization of Islamic countries who are seeking to censor any comment about Islam because I think it is a fundamental violation of our right of free speech as Americans.
“But within that framework a truly modern person who happened to worship would not be a threat,” Gingrich said. “A person who belonged any kind of belief in shari’a, any kind of effort to impose that on the rest of us, would be a mortal threat.”
Earlier in the campaign cycle, Cain got a lot of mileage out of stirring up fears of sharia creep. Cain famously said he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet, a comment which dogged him for the rest of his campaign, but also channeled a general sense of foreboding when it comes to Islam among some in the right. Rick Santorum, Gingrich’s main rival for the anti-Romney vote, has been touting his credentials as a sharia fighter for a while, but now it seems Gingrich is ready to get in on the act in a big way.