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

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Ethics penalty 'reimbursement,' says Gingrich


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

    Why do people keep embarrasing themselves with questions like this?
    Rick would have earned himself a little respect if he would have actually pointed how how ridiculous it was and not kept appeasing the extreme nutbags in his audience.

    January 23, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. anthony78

    good bye Rick.. Palin, Bachman, Perry, and Cain are all waiting for you. Thanks for disrespecting OUR President, and showing the country why YOU don't/won't ever be good enough hold that office. And if that woman still thinks that way about OUR President, then the Republican voters truly are S.T.U.P.I.D.

    Obama +4 More.

    January 23, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Republicans in Florida represent the dumbest of Americans. Leave to gutless Santorum to not correct her. Even McCain had the balls to point out that was lie.

    January 23, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Andrew

    Oh and being Muslim wouldn't even be a reason he couldn't be president anyway....
    There is no law that says the president has to be a crazy christian.....

    January 23, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. newguy

    Wow ppl still on that obama muslim thing smh sad

    January 23, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I have to admit, we have our share of bigots in Florida, and I am embarrassed.

    January 23, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I guess if only 10 people show up to your town hall, don't make them angry.

    January 23, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. bullock w

    Yeah obama was used musilims of his preacher
    Why musilims was killed people army at fort hood texas

    January 23, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. rs

    On one hand I cannot blame Santorum for ignoring the ramblings of a crazy person. But as the GOP has either tacitly encouraged such nonsense to be said about a sitting President (through Fox, Rush, Beck, etc.), or actively encouraged it through their TEA Party, a politicial of any stripe should have corrrected this woman.

    January 23, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. DJ in Texas

    These are YOUR supporters saying these things. No one is asking to go out and repeat on the stump. But when asked by YOUR supporter, what's wrong with correcting them? Wouldn't Mr. Santorum want the same thing if people questioned his Christianity?

    BTW – people call themselves Christian, but then do exactly what the Bible says NOT to do and that is "judge" people. President Obama has repeatedly stated he's a Christian and believes in Jesus Christ, but yet people question that....and then wonder why people question them as a "real Christian" because real Christians don't question others "professed" faith.

    January 23, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. S.positive

    Sad Delusion

    January 23, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Ted van Tol

    A Christian who is betraiting another Christian don't deserve a place in the White House.
    A good President is President of every American, the intellegent and the stupid like this woman.
    Obama is such a President.

    January 23, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  13. Logic

    Oh, Florida, you never cease to amaze...

    January 23, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  14. Marie MD

    That woman, if the President is really who she says he is, would be in jail or dead right now in any other country. Lucky her that she and this idiot santorum who doesn't have the balls to stand up to false accusations against our President. If you knew anything about our system you would know that the President can do what he did. It's the rethugs who brought in a few of their minions to pretend that congress was in session.
    You have an obligation not to continue to spread the hatred and unfounded fear that the AK bimbo started. You will NEVER make it to the WH. I was going to say you can drive past it, but you can't anymore either.
    Glad to see that the US is still full of imbeciles starting with the teapublikan candidates.

    January 23, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. Arkansas Undertaker

    That "Obama is a Muslim" crap didnt work the last time so oh well!

    January 23, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. mommytwice

    The fact that there are still small brained, backwards, paint chip eating people out there who think the president is a Muslim is almost as scary as this prejudiced, bigoted, religious fanatic winning the nomination.

    January 23, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. jim

    A true patriot would stand up for his president, no matter political affiliation. That woman spewed lies – none of what she said had an iota of truth. Funny, the most committed Christian in the presidential race is Pres Obama, and the American Taliban and conspiracy nuts just can't deal with it.

    January 23, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. Viet.Vet

    Why would he correct her, he knows the ignorant right will support him and as long as he plays to them he will get their vote however, he will never be President

    January 23, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. Ely Robbins

    This is infuriating. What's wrong with people? How can Santorum say it's not his job to point things out to people when he DISAGREES with them. This is not a disagreement – it's an abuse of the actual facts. McCain is clearly a bigger man than this guy. Simply not addressing the bigoted throughline in his questionner's statement is cowardly. His silence amounts to an endorsement of her own stupidity.

    January 23, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. Fred

    spot on

    January 23, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. logicnLA

    What's worse- the fact that Santorum draws such ignorant people to his events or that Santorum, as a candidate would not defend the fact that Obama is legally our President and not Muslim?
    And when he was in office, why didn't he fight agianst other recess appointments ( which they were legally on) Face it, Obama is too smart to have not waited. you can't say he is a liberal elitist and not know those laws.
    As for the lady – Please enact a literacy law for voting!

    January 23, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. michele

    Here we go again......what is with the ignorance in this country???? and the GOP keep fueling this

    January 23, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. rick

    If this ignorant woman is representative of the kind of people that attend Santorum's rallies, and the fact that he did not come down hard on her, God help us if this man ever gets elected President.

    January 23, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. Charlie from the North

    The short answer is "Lady you are full of crap, I win't talk that way about my President and like it or not that who he is until I take over the job in 2013" That's what I would have said: if I were foolish enough to think I could do a better job.

    January 23, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. cf

    Santorum should be ashamed of himself. It should be the responisibiliy of any decent citizen to address and denounce such preposterous and dangerous allegations, especially among those running for the office. McCain was right when he denounced a similar question in 2008, but Santorum, in his silent agreement to the misaligned questioner, brings shame and embarassment upon himself and the GOP. I will NEVER give respect to Santorum or his party until he and they treat those on the other side of the political aisle likewise.

    January 23, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
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