After Mitt Romney suggested he was in favor of pulling out of Afghanistan during the first presidential debate, there was speculation about whether a new isolationist streak was coursing through the Republican presidential field. But at The New Republic, Eli Lake finds the national security issues dividing the candidates aren’t necessarily as simple as being for or against the drawdown.
There are numerous new debates that have cropped up within the party, and one subject unique to the 2012 field is the “threat” of sharia law in America. Namely, there’s a split among candidates who feel that sharia – Islamic religious law – is an imminent danger that could potentially overtake our Constitution, and those who disagree.
So far, Mitt Romney has avoided the issue in favor of more traditional concerns. Tim Pawlenty has dabbled in the anti-sharia movement, shutting down a sharia-compliant finance program when he was governor. His spokesperson told Lake that “he does think there is a threat from sharia or any religious law or international law of undermining U.S. law and the Constitution. The threat is the courts would look to sharia law instead of the U.S. Constitution, and the governor would vigorously oppose this.”
But based on the article, Rep. Michele Bachmann seems to be the top candidate for the anti-sharia movement. The Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney – whose group focuses on the threat of sharia law – told Lake he’s advised Bachmann on the issues in the past:
And, of Bachmann, [Gaffney] said this: “She is a friend and a person I admire. I hope she is getting the best counsel she can.” He added, “We are a resource she has tapped, I’m assuming among many others.” When I asked him whether Bachmann had been briefed on the Team B II Report, he replied, “We’ve spent hours, over several days with her. I think she’s got the bulk of what we would tell her in one of the more formal presentations.”
Other leaders in the anti-sharia movement also praised Bachmann’s stances on the issue in the article:
“She really gets it that there is a stealth jihad by radical Islamists in this country,” says Sarah Stern, the president and founder of the Endowment for Middle East Truth. Stern recalls a conversation that she had with Bachmann in the congresswoman’s office in October 2010. Stern says Bachmann was talking about “the depth of radical Islam in Minneapolis.” (Minneapolis was the site of a longtime operation by Al Shabab to recruit Somali-Americans to fight in Somalia.) “She actually said, ‘Right here, coming to a theater near you, we have stealth jihad in Minnesota,’” Stern told me approvingly.
This is one position that differentiates Bachmann among the other top candidates. So far, her campaign hasn’t spent a lot of time emphasizing it, but it could become a major point of contention (especially with Romney) when national security issues begin to take a more prominent role in the race. It’s also an issue her opponents and critics will likely seize on as yet another way to portray her as a far right-wing figure.