Update: Ijaz insists his account of Q&A with Mitt about Muslims in the cabinet is accurate; Update: McCain comments

If you’re bored with this story, as some commenters insisted they were in last night’s thread, good news — this is where you get to stop reading. If you’re not, here’s Jim Geraghty’s e-mail exchange with Mansour Ijaz about the precise question asked and answer given about having Muslims in the cabinet. Ijaz insists there was nothing more to Mitt’s answer than the bizarre bit about mathematical quotas recounted in his CSM op-ed. Although, if that’s true, why did he use an ellipsis at the beginning of Romney’s answer?

His summation of the incident:

Gov. Romney stated what he believed — and I think he gave a genuine answer to my question — because he thought he was in a sympathetic audience of supporters that would not challenge his stated policy goals and positions.

The moment he was challenged, he first tried subterfuge and then he essentially tried to rewrite the encounter. That is unacceptable political behavior in a man who seeks the highest office in our land.

It’s the eleventh hour but anyone hungering for a guest shot on the YouTube debate tonight could do worse than posting a question about this to YT. I’m sure CNN is dying to put the screws to Romney about it, especially since he was the one who balked at the idea of a YouTube debate early on. Exit question: Which Republicans, if any, will risk hammering Mitt on this? Some small part of the base probably approves of a “no Muslim appointees” policy; another part of it may not approve but may also be leery of any candidate who’s too insistent the other way. Rudy’s already viewed as too far left by some and can’t afford to go further; Fred and Huck are competing with Mitt for red-meat conservatives and probably don’t want to be seen as comparatively “squishy.” That leaves McCain, who’s got all the hawkish cred he needs and is looking for an opening to raise his profile. I hope he brings it up. The Dems surely will later.

Update: And here comes McCain.

My only point is we’ve got to highest and best qualified people. I’m proud of the Muslims who are currently serving in the United States armed forces, and my sense is that if they can serve in that manner, they can serve in any position of responsibility in America. If I read his appointment of a judge that he now wants to resign, under the thinking, ‘we needed more women’ — I just think appoint the most qualified individuals to positions of responsibility.