ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: Another Republican 2008 Presidential candidate weighed in late today, condemning Columbia University for inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on campus. â€œAhmadinejad is an international criminal and a leading sponsor of terrorism,â€? said Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado in a statement. â€œThis is a man who has contributed directly to the deaths of American soldiers. For Columbia Universityâ€™s President to host Ahmadinejad on campus under the guise of free-speech while simultaneously barring the ROTC smacks of hypocrisy.â€?
Columbia has no official, on-campus Reserve Officer Training Corps program after it was dissolved in 1969. Students at Columbia who wish to participate in ROTC go to either Fordham or Manhattan College for the ROTC curriculum.
â€œRegrettably, Columbia University thinks itâ€™s ok to ban the U.S. military from campus while allowing a terrorist, responsible for killing dissidents in his home country and American soldiers in Iraq, to speak in their auditorium,â€? said Tancredo. â€œIt is quite unfortunate that this is what passes for â€˜higher educationâ€™ in America these days.â€?
In 2005, Columbia administrators voted to keep the ROTC programs off of Columbia, citing the discriminatory nature of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Tancredo, no fan of gay rights in general as backer of a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, pointed out in his press release, "Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran."
Just about every Republican candidate has weighed in on the issue. Among others, Rep. Duncan Hunter wants to try and pass a law cutting federal funding for the University. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney aired a radio ad saying he was at the forefront, leading opposition to Ahmadinejad. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani had a message read in his name to anti-Ahmadinejad protesters outside the United Nations, where Ahmadinejad is attending the annual general assembly.
Meanwhile, the Columbia speech is just one stop on Ahmadinejad's media tour of the United States. He was interviewed by Scott Pelley on a 60 Minutes episode that aired Sunday night on CBS and also took questions via teleconference from reporters at the National Press Club.
No condemnations yet of those appearances, however.