Democrat Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), one of two frontrunners in the U.S. Senate race in the California primary, doubled down Monday on her claim last December that up to 20% of Muslims worldwide support terror to establish a caliphate.
Asked by the moderator to clarify her claims, Sanchez attacked her critics, and defended her sources:
People said that it was about American Muslims, and it wasn’t. I know my American Muslim community very well. I was talking about worldwide Muslims. Oh, and by the way, nobody had been able to refute those numbers. And I’ve looked at BBC, at Pew Research, at Harvard scholars — no one has refuted those numbers. But here’s the most important thing you need to now. I am very close, and I have always fought, for my Muslim-American community And I will continue to do so as your Senator.
Sanchez, who serves on the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, made her initial remarks in an interview with broadcaster Larry King on his Ora.tv show, Politicking with Larry King, after the San Bernardino terror attacks Dec. 2:
King had asked Sanchez about Republican criticism of President Barack Obama for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” She responded as follows, adding that the question was “not about all Muslims in our country”:
Oh, well, you know–what’s in a name? That’s always the issue…
But certainly, we know that there is a small group–and we don’t know how big that is, it can be anywhere between five and 20 percent, from the people that I speak to–that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible, and in particular go after what they consider Western norms, our way of life. They are not content enough to have their way of looking at the world. They want to put their way on everybody in the world. And, again, I don’t know how big that is, and depending on who you talk to, but they’re certainly, they are willing to go to extremes. They are willing to use, and they do use, terrorism. And it is in the name of a very wrong way of looking at Islam.
I don’t fault the president on his verbiage. I want him to understand it–to go after this ISIL, ISIS, Daesh state that people are trying to form. Because it’s going after us.
Subsequently, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who leads Sanchez in the polls, later took a swipe at her rival for those remarks, accusing Sanchez of “scapegoating” Muslims. But Sanchez defended her claims — and did so again Monday.
In an interview after the debate with the Orange County Register, Sanchez said: “No one has refuted those numbers … People are beginning to understand that those are the numbers that are out there.” In the debate itself, Sanchez also said that President Barack Obama had not done enough to address the threat of Islamic terror, but that the military was not always the answer.
The debate was held at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. The three Republican candidates in the race also participated: former California Republican Party chairs Tom Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim, and entrepreneur Ron Unz.
Republicans aimed largely at Sanchez, hoping to dislodge her from second place. The top two finishers in California’s “jungle primary” advance to the general election, regardless of party; all of the candidates will be on all of the primary ballots, even though only Republicans may vote in the Republican presidential primary, and independent voters have to request a special ballot to participate in the Democratic presidential primary. Unz stirred interest among media commentators on the debate by criticizing President George W. Bush’s foreign policy and endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in his focus on Wall Street.
An online poll by Sacramento area NBC News affiliate KCRA 3 found viewers believed that Harris and Del Beccaro won the debate.
The five contenders are competing to fill the open seat left by Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer’s retirement in January 2017.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.