Gainesville pastor marches outside debate
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 10:01
He didn't sport a tailored suit or screaming followers like the other candidates.
Instead, Terry Jones, a pastor from Gainesville who earned national notoriety after creating "International Burn a Quran Day" last year and the newest candidate to enter the race for the Republican nomination, led a handful of his supporters across campus Monday before the NBC Republican Presidential Candidates Debate. Jones wore a black leather jacket, jeans and a signature horseshoe mustache reminiscent of Civil War generals.
"Let's get the illegals," his supporters chanted, as opponents spat and screamed at them. "Ban same-sex marriage. Get the illegal Muslim out of the White House."
Protesters followed the entourage screaming, "Shame on you!"
Yet not all of the "Islam is the Devil" author's ideas are too far removed from the candidates that stood on the other side of the barricaded wall in Theatre I, he said.
He wants to balance the budget and reduce the national deficit, according to his website. He wants to eliminate dependency on foreign oil, "deport all illegal aliens immediately," remove U.S. presence from all foreign countries and cut military spending by "several billion dollars."
But above all, the pastor wants to be taken seriously and create dialogue.
The media, he said, was unfair to him last year when he burned Qurans.
"The media was very unfair," he said in an interview with The Oracle. "We were protesting radical Islam, terrorism, the ground zero mosque, and all of those things were very legitimate. We respect the rights of Muslims that have an America here under the First Amendment to evangelize, to build mosques, but we want to outlaw Sharia (law). Any Muslim American, anyone who lives in this country, must be willing to be governed by the Constitution and not by any other law."
To his son Luke, a 30-year-old with rugged facial hair and the American flag tattooed around his forearm, the media could make or break a person.
"The media portrayal is not fair at all," he said. "Obviously we've done many, many interviews and they never broadcast or they cut things. The media basically have power to make you who you are — if they like you, or if they dislike you."
To Luke, the media has turned his father into a politician.
Growing up, Luke said he could never imagine his father being president of the United States.
"My dad is not a politician," he said. "He's a pastor. He's been one for most of his life. He's a great dad. He's a really easy-going guy. For me he's not a politician. He's a pastor and my dad."
But his dad said America needs a leader, and that's something the pastor, who's been spotted with a pistol strapped to his hip at the Gainesville church he's led for more than 10 years, could offer.
"I think America really needs a quality leader," he said. "In other words, we need someone who can make
decisions because in order to save our economy, it's not going to be easy. I think it's going to take someone with some real guts. Quite honestly, I think I could be that person for America. I could definitely be very honest. I think I would be willing to deal with the issues that need to be dealt with that are very difficult."
Luke, who has two older sisters who live in Europe, where the family spent more than 35 years in ministry work, carries around signs for his father that read, "Bloody Obama," and said he has always supported his father's beliefs.
"It's easier for people to swallow the nice talk of politicians," he said. "What happens is they talk and they appear to have real solutions. They try and make everybody happy, but what happens at the end is that they have no real changes. (My father's) willing to say things people don't like."
While Terry Jones is registered and made his official bid to run for the presidency Oct. 26, he is not on the Florida ballot.