January 23rd, 2012
04:55 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum ignores charge Obama is a Muslim

Lady Lake, Florida (CNN) - During a town hall at an American Legion Hall here Monday afternoon, Rick Santorum was asked a question about President Obama's religion that's been a common refrain amongst certain Republicans going all the way back to 2008.

"I never refer to Obama as President Obama because legally he is not," the woman in the audience began. "He constantly says that our constitution is passé, and he ignores it as you know and does what he darn well pleases. He is an avowed Muslim and my question is, why isn't something being done to get him out of government? He has no legal right to be calling himself president."

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Rather than disagreeing with the questioner or correcting her assertion by reminding her that President Obama is in fact a Christian, Santorum entirely ignored the more controversial parts of her question.

"Well look, I'm doing my best to get him out of the government right now," Santorum said. "And you're right about how he uniformly ignores the constitution. He did this with these appointments over the recess that was not a recess, and if I was in the United States Senate I would be drawing the line."

In talking about the constitutionality of the president's use of so-called "czars" to handle certain policies, Santorum even joked that the female questioner would "be the first czar I name," saying that promise should reassure the crowd that he wouldn't name any czars at all.

During the 2008 general election, John McCain was famously asked a similar question by a woman who called Obama "an Arab" at a Minnesota town hall, and he rejected the premise of her question.

"No ma'am," McCain said. "He's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

During an interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King following the town hall, Santorum rejected the idea that it's his responsibility to disagree with supporters who call the president a Muslim.

"I don't feel it's my obligation every time someone says something I don't agree with to contradict them, and the President's a big boy, he can defend himself and his record and I'm going to go out and talk about the issues that the President and I disagree on and try to defeat him because I think that's the best thing that we can do for the future of our country," Santorum told King, in an interview for CNN's "John King USA."

When reminded of McCain's decision to publically reject such claims in 2008, Santorum said he's done so in the past, but doesn't feel the need to continue to do so.

"I think I have repeated that many, many times over the course of this campaign," Santorum said, of his efforts to remind people that Obama is a Christian. "I don't really feel an obligation to go out and repeat it over and over again as people bring that up. My position is clear, the President's position is clear, I don't think the President's a Muslim, but I don't think it's my obligation to go out and repeat that every time someone who feels that way says something."

Also see:

Santorum takes on Iran

Romney takes aim at Gingrich in Florida

Who is Saul Alinsky? A Gingrich line explained

Ethics penalty 'reimbursement,' says Gingrich


Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Rick Santorum
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. John Domini

    Disgusting. Santorum shows no spine at all. He's a candidate who shames all Americans.

    January 23, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  2. thebob.bob

    He stood silent while someone slandered the President of the United States. What if the women quoted scripture justifying slavery and racial segregation? Silence in the face of evil???

    Sounds like his moral character is a frothy mixture of political opportunism and religious pandering. Full of air and it stinks.

    January 23, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Santorum doesn't have any stones; if he did, he would have respectfully told this woman she's off her rocker for insisting on believing this nonsense.

    January 23, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  4. Richard

    The fact Rick didn't have the guts to you correct that nutjob woman was shameful.

    January 23, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  5. tellitlikeitis

    This is why this man can never be president. John McCain corrected a lady who thought Obama was Muslim and it garnered him more votes. I guess this is Rick's Christian way of doing things. No wonder they changed his last name to a body fluid!

    January 23, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  6. The Unsub

    no comment

    January 24, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  7. The Unsub

    this IS 2012.....right????

    January 24, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  8. Marry

    Never mind if this woman was planted or is so delusional, there are too many people like that – very sad! But it is Santorum’s reaction and that of the GOP/TP clowns in general when bashing the President that you should take a close look at. This is also a question about YOUR character. Are you in support of distortion, dishonesty, disrespect, irresponsibility, and hate? Never mind the “solutions” the GOP candidates try to sell you? Voting for the GOP/TP is not only a vote against all decency. It is a vote against the future of the US!

    January 24, 2012 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  9. Maurice Stewart

    When John McCain was faced with this situation three years ago, I gained alot of respect for him in the way he handled
    this question irrespective of the fact that he was seeking that lad's vote! He CORRECTED her ignorant statement! Rick Santorum, what can I say! For me, after a number of bigoted statements he recently made, standing there and just smiling, ignoring her "ignorant statement" for me was the closing of HIS political coffin! God help America of HE ever became President! Did not even have the guts to stand up for someone whom he knows is a fellow Christian. Or does he? Maybe he secretly endorses her analysis that Obama is a Muslim! Really sad!

    January 24, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
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