News reports in the Associated Press and the New York Post, and an editorial in Investor's Business Daily, quoted Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) by saying that "being seen in a head scarf and so forth is sending the wrong signal to the people of Syria and to the people of the Middle East," without noting that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and first lady Laura Bush have both done the same when visiting the Middle East.
An April 5 article in the New York Post asserted, "From the campaign trail in Iowa, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney slammed Pelosi's diplomatic excursion," before offering Romney's quote:
"I just don't know what got into her head, to be completely honest with you," he said.
"Her going to a state which is, without question, a sponsor of terror, and having her picture taken with Assad and being seen in a head scarf and so forth is sending the wrong signal to the people of Syria and to the people of the Middle East."
An April 4 AP report similarly noted Romney's criticism without offering any context. Neither that report nor the Post article made it clear in the text that Pelosi wore the scarf during a visit to the tomb of John the Baptist inside the Umayyad mosque in Damascus and not in her meeting with with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Romney's quote could be read to suggest that Pelosi wore the scarf during that meeting. A photo accompanying the Post article shows clearly that Pelosi's head was not covered when she met with Assad.
Additionally, an editorial in the April 5 edition of Investor's Business Daily asserted, "Anyone who thinks Nancy Pelosi showing up wearing a scarf around her head visiting a mosque" will lead to peace negotiations "won't even make janitor in the foreign service." The editorial continued, "Speaking of that scarf, one waggish Canadian commentator remarked that 'given the maple leaf-studded head scarf she donned before entering a Syrian mosque yesterday, American House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could have been an ambassador for Canada,' " adding that Pelosi "represented the dovish foreign policy of the land of the maple leaf a lot more than that of a post-9/11 America leading a global war on terror."
By contrast, an April 5 article in the Los Angeles Times noted that the conservative "Family Research Council disapproved of Pelosi for consenting to the Islamic custom of covering her head during a visit to a mosque," and added, "The group said doing so 'is usually seen as a sign of submission in the Muslim world.' " But the article went on to note that "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and First Lady Laura Bush are among many high-profile women who do the same when in the Mideast."
As early as 6:38 p.m. ET on April 3, Internet gossip Matt Drudge had a picture of Pelosi wearing the scarf on the front page of his Drudge Report website. That picture moved to the top story as early as 7:12 p.m.