Why Seeme Hasan May Drop the GOP

August 2010

In coming months, you'll probably hear a lot more about President Barack Obama's support for a Muslim group that seeks to build an Islamic center near the site of the World Trade Center that was leveled in the September, 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And Republicans will likely use Obama's words against Democrats in the mid-term elections this fall, points out Bloomberg News. As Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, says, "There is no win for Obama here." Indeed, despite the economy being the top issue for voters, the mosque controversy may play into voters' fears about "Democrats not being tough enough on terrorism," Zelizer adds. But the rhetoric has created divisions for some Republicans, including Colorado's Seeme Hasan, who chairs the Hasan Family Foundation, which was recently in the news after requesting that Scott McInnis return the $300,000 he was paid for allegedly plagiarized work. Hasan, an influential conservative donor who, along with her husband, has given more than $1 million to the Republican Party, tells Talking Points Memo she may leave the GOP because of the party's saber rattling over the proposed Muslim center.

"I don't know if I'll be a Republican a year from now," she says, adding frustration that "every time a Muslim person becomes famous, they are viciously attacked." For now, however, Hasan---whose son, Ali, ran a primary campaign for the Republican nomination for state treasurer, but lost---continues to support the GOP, including U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck, who is among those opposing the so-called Cordoba House project in New York. Hasan tells TPM she wishes that GOP leaders who oppose the plan had called her and her husband before publicly voicing their opinions. "All Republicans in Washington know us," she explains. "They could have called to say, 'Hey we are going to come out against this mosque, what do you think?' It's sad."

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