JOHN GIBSON: Joining me now, is Ahmed Rehab of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. So Ahmed, itís nice of you to join us, thank you very much.
AHMED REHAB: Thanks for having me John.
GIBSON: So who is it that American Muslims would like to see coming out of Iowa as winners?
REHAB: I got to be honest with you; I donít think that there is a monolithic view coming out of the American Muslim community that I can speak for. Itís pretty diverse. I can tell you my personal view.
GIBSON: Yeah, Iíd like to hear that. But, just, before you do, would you say Muslims are generally Democrats or Republicans?
REHAB: Hereís my personal perspective having observed history and kind of looked through it. Interestingly, Muslim Americans kind of started out being Republican and over the Bush administration swayed the other way. So right now, I would say the majority of American Muslims are pro-democrat more then pro-republican.
GIBSON: Okay, now of those democrats, let me ask you who your favorite Democrat is then?
REHAB: And again itís my personal view, it doesnít represent CAIRís, but my having witnessed some of the presentations and debates, Iím leaning towards Obama.
GIBSON: Wouldnít happen to have been his youthful Muslim experience would it?
REHAB: (Laughs) No to the contrary. That has nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, I find it insulting that people would try to attack him with the claim that he is a Muslim. He is not. Heís a Christian and a proud one at that. I value his Christian traditions. Itís actually part of the reason why I find him valuable.
GIBSON: Well I know Muslims respect people of the book. But letís not forget young Barrack was the step child of a Muslim father. He is the son of a Muslim father. His grandmother is Muslim and while living in Indonesia as a wee lad, a little kid I grant you that, he did register in school as a Muslim and you know played with Muslim kids.
REHAB: Yeah but you know, I donít believe in the politics of identity and all of that does not endear him to me and it doesnít handicap him as an option.
GIBSON: But he has said you know, one of my credentials is that I have experienced living overseas. Now, you know what heís talking about is the time from when heís about 10 years old.
REHAB: Right Right. But it isnít about the fact that he has a Muslim grandmother. Itís about the fact that he has certain experience. So itís irrelevant as to the identity of his ancestors.
GIBSON: Well, what is the experience?
REHAB: The experience is having interacted with a culture that you can move beyond setting aside in the minimalist character of fashion which a lot of other politicians tend to do which is a good thing.
GIBSON: What does that mean in English?
REHAB: Well what it means is, a lot of us talk about the Middle East and the Muslim World as this ridiculous cartoon character and we kind of, we donít really understand the nuances that they're people like us, that they have the good and bad and we kind of generalize and that doesnít do us a service in our global policy.
GIBSON: Right, but I thought you just said it was a non-issue
REHAB: No his experience is an issue. The identity of his grandparents or his step-father is a non-issue. So you mentioned his experience. On that, I value that experience but if you ask me about the fact that he has Muslim ancestry, that is completely irrelevant to this.
GIBSON: Are you worried, in supporting Obama; are you worried that Hilary Clinton if she were the Democratic nominee and if she were the president, would be a bombing president?
REHAB: No, that isnít my worry. Again, to me and this is where I divert from a lot of American Muslims. To me, the primary issues of concern are not foreign policy. Theyíre domestic issues.
GIBSON: Such as?
REHAB: Well such as health care, such as the politics of hope, such as equality and civil rights, and respect. Thatís what I like about Obama; he presents to me the politics of hope. Thereís this terrible aftertaste in my mouth after the Bush administrationís what I see to be abuses against your civil liberties and the sort ofÖ
GIBSON: So you think Obama would not listen to terrorist phone calls?
REHAB: Well I would hope he does.
GIBSON: You think Obama would not run a secret prison?
REHAB: No, I donít think he would.
GIBSON: You think Obama would not waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
REHAB: I donít think he would. I donít think most Americans who respect American values would.
GIBSON: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed revealed plans to attack the library tower in Los Angeles in the same way the twin towers were attacked. Three or four thousand people didnít die because he had some water dribbled in his nose and thatís a problem?
REHAB: Well let me ask you a question.
REHAB: If you can extract this information from him by having a crook rape his daughter would you do so?
GIBSON: Well no.
REHAB: Thank you. So you do have limits as well. Thatís good.
GIBSON: No but thatís the Saddam line in the sand. We donít have rape rooms. And we donítÖ
REHAB: We shouldnít have torture ones either. Thatís just as bad.
GIBSON: Well since when is waterboarding torture?
REHAB: Since before Cheney said it wasnít.
GIBSON: Well I mean look, the guy gave up information in a minute and a half. He was not harmed. I am for it and that doesnít mean that I am for rape rooms at all. Now, Ahmed who do you fear being elected?
GIBSON: Not McCain?
REHAB: No Giuliani more so. Giuliani to me is an extension of the policy mongering (unclear) and that whole culture weíve seen in the past few years.
GIBSON: Have you heard his new ad?
REHAB: I have.
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GIBSON: Whatís wrong with that Ahmed?
REHAB: Itís an apocalyptic Armageddon. Thereís always been danger in the world. This isnít new and so obviously every president has had to deal with danger. Heís not going to be the first one to do so. So itís interesting that heís trying to project this end of the world scenario that you know without me, danger and crisis is one step away. By the way, to my knowledge he didnít prevent 9/11 from happening in his city. He just responded to it well, which I appreciate, but I donít think he can take any credit for any type of anti-terrorist activity in the past. So I think heís just banking on that.
GIBSON: Now, Ahmed before we go, who do you think Osama Bin Laden wants to win tonight?
REHAB: (Laughing) I have no idea. I donít tend to mingle with the Bin Ladens of the world so your guess is as good as mine.
GIBSON: Itís just a projection of logic. I mean, for instance, my guess is he wants Ron Paul to win because Ron Paulís an isolationist and Bin Laden can have his way with the world and Ron Paul wonít care.
REHAB: Alright fine. Since you asked the question Iíll do you and your audience a service of a response and Iím not being facetious or philosophical when I tell you that I honestly believe he would want a Giuliani to win because when Giuliani wins and our culture changes and our whole American way of life and the spirit of freedom changes and thereís fear that stifles our lives, that is when the Bin Ladens begin winning.
GIBSON: Ahmed have you ever been to New York?
REHAB: I go there every other week.
GIBSON: Whatís the problem?
REHAB: With what?
GIBSON: New York.
REHAB: Thereís no problem with New York that I see.
GIBSON: Giuliani made todayís New York.
REHAB: Well then Giuliani should run for mayor.
GIBSON: No, I mean thatís what we need in this country.
REHAB: Well New York does not have to deal with global affairs. New York is not going to declare war or deal with the war.
GIBSON: New Yorkís got a huge counterintelligence operation. Searches out terrorists.
REHAB: Itís not a state. I think you would agree itís not a state. Itís not run by a president.
GIBSON: Itís bigger then most of the states heís running in right now.
REHAB: It doesnít have the same apparatus. I donít think he is, itís just my personal opinion. Many Muslims may disagree. I donít speak for all Muslims. But I honestly think that the only reason why heís running is because of this newfound popularity that almost smacked him in the face and surprised him right after 9/11. I donít think he has any other credentials otherwise.
GIBSON: Ahmed Rehab thanks of CAIR, Council on American Islamic Relations. The last guy at CAIRíll talk to me. Ahmed thanks very much.