It's only been a few days since Sen. Ted Cruz formally admitted he's running for the GOP nomination for president for 2016, but an Islamic advocacy group is already weighing in and urging Cruz to skip a conference they claim has ties to white supremacists and anti-Muslims.
This week the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a release asking Cruz not to make his scheduled appearance at the New England Freedom Conference, an event slated to be this Friday and Saturday by the Young America's Foundation (aka the people who put up posters of President Ronald Reagan on their dorm room walls because they're that devoted.) So why is CAIR asking Cruz to ditch his scheduled speech? Well, it's because of a couple different things.
For one thing, back in 2011 the Young Americans for Freedom voted to join the Young America's Foundation so that with the power of their forces combined they'd have a larger group of super-conservative young GOP enthusiasts. That all sounds fine except that in 2007 the Young Americans for Freedom held an event at Michigan State University featuring Nick Griffin, the then-chairman of the far right British National Party. Griffin is also reportedly a Holocaust denier. On top of that, Texas neo-nazi Preston Wiginton (the one currently running around Russia encouraging "race hate" according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) was also a speaker at the 2007 conference.
The organization's other objection over Cruz speaking is because of who else is on the roster for the conference. Specifically, they have an issue with Robert Spencer, a co-founder of the group Stop Islamization of America. He's also the guy who runs the Jihad Watch blog.
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"If Senator Cruz believes that he can campaign for president while sharing center stage with a professional hate monger like Robert Spencer, I seriously doubt his ability to win the U.S. minority vote or unite the country as president," Robert McCaw, CAIR Government Affairs Manager, stated. He went on to note that Cruz, as the first official GOP candidate, should be paying attention to make sure he doesn't alienate minority groups since he will need a diverse set of supporters if he has any hope of ultimately winning the White House in 2016. "Senator Cruz will need more than just the evangelical bloc and Tea Party votes if he wants to rise past the Republican primary."
However, representatives for both the Young America's Foundation and Cruz don't seem worried about the whole CAIR thing. Patrick Coyle, vice president of the Young America's Foundation, says that the branch of Young Americans for Freedom that invited white supremacists to speak at Michigan State has never been a recognized part of the Young America's Foundation, describing that chapter as a "rogue group." "We know the group purportedly operated under the name of Young Americans for Freedom, but they were never a recognized chapter and Young America's Foundation has never sponsored either speaker at any time," Coyle said. "Young America's Foundation proudly welcomes Robert Spencer to our conference."
So that's their stance on the issue.
As for Cruz, he hasn't been deterred by CAIR's request or the presence of Spencer on the roster. "Senator Cruz has been invited to speak to Young American's Foundation. He intends to keep that commitment," Rick Tyler, national spokesman for Cruz for President, said.