For a second day, Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign let stand remarks by the Republican presidential hopeful that suggest he believes the vast majority of Muslims are extremists.
While the governor’s campaign sought to clarify the remarks he made in Derry, New Hampshire, in a statement Friday, a campaign spokeswoman declined or didn’t respond to three requests by the Wisconsin State Journal on Friday and Saturday to explain whether Walker merely misspoke when he said there are few “reasonable, moderate followers of Islam.”
In attempting to make a point Friday about how President Barack Obama has shied from using the word “Islamic” in describing terrorist groups, Walker said, “You’ve got to identify who the enemy is loud and clear.
“We’ve said it repeatedly, it’s radical Islamic terrorism, it is a war not against only America and Israel, it’s a war against Christians, it’s a war against Jews, it’s a war against even the handful of reasonable, moderate followers of Islam who don’t share the radical beliefs that these radical Islamic terrorists have.”
Asked whether the governor meant to indict virtually the entire Muslim faith with his comment, spokeswoman AshLee Strong issued the following statement on Friday:
“The Governor knows that the majority of ISIS’s victims are Muslims. Muslims who want to live in peace — the majority of Muslims — are the first target of radical Islamic terrorists. Under the Obama-Clinton foreign policy doctrine, we’ve been abandoning our traditional Muslim allies in the Middle East and allowing ISIS, al Qaeda, and Iran to fill the void.”
Strong did not respond to questions Friday about whether the governor simply misspoke. Asked again on Saturday whether the governor meant what he said on Friday or wished to call back those comments, Strong declined to answer, saying only that the State Journal was “reading too much into ‘handful’ ” and that the campaign’s follow-up statement about Muslims wanting to live in peace encompassed “exactly what he was saying.”
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which on Friday called on Walker to apologize for the remarks, said the group appreciated that the governor “walked back the comment, but why did he make it in the first place?”
“If he really believed that the vast majority of Muslims worldwide are reasonable and moderate, why did he say that only a handful of Muslims are reasonable and moderate?” Hooper said.
As of Saturday, Hooper said, the Walker campaign had not contacted the group.