Carly Fiorina has condemned Donald Trump’s "outrageous" call to ban Muslims from entering the United States in fiery terms all week. But she’s set to participate in a conference held by the same fringe group that Trump cited to justify his proposal and whose leader has publicly defended Trump’s ideas.
Fiorina is set to remotely address the Nevada Security Action Summit next week. The event is hosted by the Center for Security Policy (CSP), led by anti-Sharia activist Frank Gaffney.
Trump cited dubious research from CSP to justify his call for a blanket restriction on Muslim immigration and travel, and Gaffney defended Trump against the subsequent wave of criticism, much of it from Fiorina and other Republicans. “[U]nless and until we can be sure that aliens proposed for admission, particularly from nations with a tradition of Islamic supremacism, aren’t jihadists – suspending their further immigration is just prudent,” Gaffney said in a statement on Trump.
“We send video statements to lots of groups that request them,” Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the Fiorina campaign, told MSNBC.
Fiorina’s participation seems to run directly counter to her indignation at Trump, whom she repeatedly accused this week of violating basic American values with his rhetoric and proposals regarding Muslims.
On Monday, the former HP CEO told reporters that Trump’s idea was “a dangerous overreaction.” The next day, she said at a town hall in Georgia that Trump’s message was “Let’s throw the Constitution out.” On Wednesday, she said in New Hampshire that Trump was “throwing out free speech and religious liberty all at the same time” and accused him of wanting to “bring back internment camps for U.S. citizens.”
Gaffney is known for promoting conspiracy theories about elaborate Muslim plots against the United States. In 2012, he accused then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin of participating in an Islamic plot to infiltrate the federal government. The allegations drew sharp condemnations from then-Speaker John Boehner and Sen. John McCain among others.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups and has labeled Gaffney an “extremist,” has called on Fiorina and other Republican candidates to avoid associating with the group.
“Given the justified denunciations following Trump’s comments, GOP candidates and the party as a whole would do well to take a public stand in opposition to anti-Muslim hate,” the SPLC’s Stephen Piggott said in a blog post on Wednesday. “A positive first step towards this would be not attending next week’s National Security Action Summit in Vegas.”
Fiorina reportedly participated in a Gaffney-led summit last year along with Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Dr. Ben Carson and former Sen. Rick Santorum.
Carson, who has argued a Muslim candidate should not be considered for president because they may have “different loyalties,” and Santorum are also listed as confirmed participants on the Nevada event’s website. A spokeswoman for Carson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the event.