Add Pastor Terry Jones to the list of controversial religious leaders making presidential endorsements this season. The Florida preacher who set fire to the Quran, sparking a deadly riot, told ABC News he would back GOP front-runner Herman Cain.
But he’d rather not have to endorse anyone, because Jones, 59, whose resume includes managing a hotel and founding a small Florida church, is running for president.
“I think Herman Cain would make a tremendous president,” Jones said. “I would definitely pick Cain. He’s got lots of guts and comes the closest to telling American people the truth. But don’t forget, I’m running too.”
Jones skyrocketed to infamy in 2010 on the eve of that year’s 9/11 anniversary when he planned International Burn a Koran Day. He balked after political and military leaders convinced him not to set fire to a pile of Muslim holy books. But in April 2011, he went ahead with burning a Quran, leading to a riot in Afghanistan, in which 10 U.N. officials were killed.
Jones called those deaths “very much of a surprise” and said as president he wouldn’t burn any Qurans at the White House.
He would, though, “confront sharia law and radical Muslims” and is “definitely for the deportation of all of the illegal immigrants.”
He also supports recalling all U.S. troops back to the United States.
Unlike GOP contenders Rep. Michele Bachmann and Gov. Rick Perry, Jones, a fundamentalist preacher, says he was not called by God to run for office; there were “just a lot of people who thought it would be a good idea.”
Jones says he has begun raising funds, but would not disclose how much. He said he’s looking into getting on the ballot and will likely run as an independent.