How GOP front-runners are commemorating 9-11

Liz Goodwin
Sarah Palin at Glenn Beck Rally
Sarah Palin at Glenn Beck Rally

One of the narratives of the summer has been the Republican Party's changing attitude toward Islam as seen in the response to the proposed mosque near Ground Zero.

A few Republicans considered front-runners for the 2012 presidential nomination have taken very strong stances against the facility, known as the Park51 Islamic Center, aligning themselves with public opinion on the issue and breaking with President Bush's past attempts to sharply differentiate American Muslims from the radical jihadists associated with the attacks on our country.

As prospective nominees jockey for position in the crowded 2012 field, the approaching ninth anniversary of the attacks signals key potential themes in their campaigns. To judge by the respective itineraries of would be 2012 candidates, the more strongly they've come out against  the mosque, the more high-profile their plans to commemorate the anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy appear to be.

Newt Gingrich, who said there should be no mosque so long as there are no churches in Saudi Arabia, will spend the day premiering his new documentary called "America at Risk" at Washington D.C.'s Newseum. Gingrich's spokesman said in an email the film "vividly demonstrates the dangers facing America, one decade after the attacks on 9/11." The former Speaker of the House was said to be speaking at an anti-mosque rally near Ground Zero by the rally's organizers, but Gingrich's spokesman said that had been a misunderstanding.

Sarah Palin, who has been as vocal as Gingrich in opposing the proposed Islamic Center, will be co-headlining a mysterious rally in Alaska with Fox pundit Glenn Beck. Beck has confirmed that he and Palin will be giving speeches, but has remained mum on the details. Tickets cost around $100, and it's unclear if the proceeds will be donated. A spokesman for Palin did not return a request for comment.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a slightly less vocal opponent of the Islamic Center, will attend a Saturday event with Jackie Walorski, who is running for Congress in Indiana. A HuckPAC spokesman says he's unsure if it's a campaign event, and we'll update with more details about the event as they become available.

Meanwhile, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who was one of the lone Republican voices to support the group's right to build the mosque, has no scheduled events for the day, according to a spokeswoman.

It's unclear if former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who quietly sided with the rest of his party in opposing the mosque but did not emphasize the issue, will attend any 9/11 memorial ceremonies. His PAC did not return a request for comment.

(Photo: Palin at Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington. AP)