3:43 pm Aug. 3, 20121
Mitt Romney declined to get involved when Rep. Michelle Bachmann accused longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of having a secret Islamist agenda. He also declined to answer a question about it today.
In the last few weeks, a number of senior Republicans have rallied to the defense of Abedin, a longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after her patriotism was questioned by Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who publicly requested an investigation into alleged ties between Abedin's family and the Muslim Brotherhood.
"I have every confidence in Huma’s loyalty to our country, and everyone else should as well," John McCain said in an impassioned defense on the Senate floor.
Asked about the Abedin accusations today—along with the controversy over Chick-Fil-A and its owner's support for same-sex marriage—Romney took a pass.
"I’m not going to tell the people what things to talk about," Romney said today after an event in Nevada, during a rare question-and-answer session with reporters. "Those are not things that are part of my campaign."
The decision not to engage with controversies like this one is normal for Romney, who seems willing to accept "refuses to condemn" criticism in exchange for not fueling matters that might draw attention from his central, economic message.
In the most high-profile instance, Romney accepted (without any unnecessary ado) Donald Trump as an endorser and surrogate, despite Trump's status as the most famous proponent of birtherism, which purports that President Obama was not actually born in America and the birth certificate legally issued by Hawaii is the result of an elaborate fraud. Trump said investigators he sent to Hawaii found some "interesting things," but has yet to reveal the results of his investigation.