January 23rd, 2012
04:55 PM ET
2 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. Jim in San Mateo

    Can we take up a collection and have this woman declared brain dead? The next thing you know she'll be trying to tell us that the earth is flat.

    January 23, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. Texhimself

    Wow. Are the crazies coming out from under their rocks again? Santorum showed no class, no bravery and no honor by not calling that idiot out. As Americans, we need to honor truth and plain talk. Folks that call our President a muslim are traitors.

    January 23, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. Celeste R. A.

    O.K. people, let’s not plant the actors and the actresses in the room to heighten the drama when you are falling.

    January 23, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. Howard

    How could Barack HUSSEIN Obama be a Muslim ... when he spent TWENTY YEARS in Jeremiah Wright's anti-American, racist church ???

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

    I hope that Rick Santorum "let her rant on so that men know she was mad".
    These backward, knuckle-dragginhg, ignoramos, bigots i.e. (apostles of hell) will just have to die out.

    January 23, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. Steve

    They sure grow them stupid in Dixie. Santorum will also get his comeuppance for his bigotry.

    January 23, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  7. ja

    the racist, don't realize tim mcveigh was a good ole christian, or so he claimed as the kkk, terrorism didn't jus start, so what the hell is wrong with being a muslim, people of all faiths have exacted terrorist acts

    January 23, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. mk1

    Oh what a coward Santorum is. He dare not even correct the ignorance of people for fear he might lose their support. This is the type of person we want as President? I sure don't think so. He should have the courage to correct people who show their ignorance. John McCain, though I did not vote for him had the courage to stand up to these people and for that he deserves credit. Santorum, as I said, nothing more than a coward.

    January 23, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. ron

    Well, if he didn't see the writing on the wall this past weekend, he certainly will following this major screw-up. It is your job to tell the truth, but that hasn't really stopped you has it, ricky? You're done. Not only are you done, but you are now toxic as a VP potential. "Silly rabbit. Tricks are for kids!"

    January 23, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. asabud

    ...Santorum has the gall to criticize the Obama as a leader. John McCain is the leader. Santorum is not fit to shine their boots. And this is the kind of candidate the party of values has to offer? No wonder they are at war with themselves.

    January 23, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Marcus

    One reason why none of these GOP nutbags will never win!No Class!

    January 23, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    What planet are these people from? Good grief! Bush destroys our country, Obama is trying to save it, and the only thing the president's detractors can say is a lie?

    These people really are in the low I.Q. Club, aren't they?

    January 23, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. Joe

    I don't know which is worse, the unbelievably stupid statement/question from that grossly misinformed woman, or the irresponsible response from Santorum. Here was an opportunity to show us what kind of a leader he would be. On second thought, maybe that's just what he did.

    January 23, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. dreucalypt

    The Republicans will never rebuke people with insane theories about Obama. They want to encourage the craziest ideas they can find, because they want people whipped up to a constant state of rage and hate.

    January 23, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. rick

    logicin LA: Enact a literacy law for voting! Absolutely! Before you can register to vote, you should pass a test similar to the one immigrants have to take to become citizens. The sad part is that more than 50% of Americans would probably fail it.

    January 23, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. anagram_kid

    This reminds me of the old saying – ‘you gotta dance with the one that brung ya’. This woman represents what the GOP has come to embrace – anger, resentment and willful ignorance. The current crop of candidates reflects those values.
    Obama 2012 – Because logic is always a better choice

    January 23, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. SecedingfromTexas

    So, there it is. Two so-called Christians feeding off of hate with their words and "not my obligation" remarks.
    Some wonder why Gingrich is rising in the polls This is exactly why. He tosses out the "red meat" at every debate, in every speech, on every street corner, and, as we have witnessed, the crowds roar. She is a perfect example
    of how they eat this stuff up and believe what is said. Ignorance personified.
    How a candidate conducts himself while travelling the Country is a great test as to how he would conduct himself as
    Commander in Chief. We already know Gingrich has no class, compassion, useful intellect, and no
    experience in foreign affairs. Santorum has just joined him in the loser category.

    January 23, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. Marcus

    Republicans running last year did not condem people like this!They encouraged it to win! Why try the same tactic?It want work this time either! Obama 2012!

    January 23, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. ConsiderThis

    How convenient, Rick. I'll bet you'll defend Gingrich when someone calls him a hyper-lobbyist; since you brown-nosed him after he won the SC primary. Sounded to me like you want to be his VP if he wins the nomination. You're an example of how disrespectful this county has been and is toward PRESIDENT OBAMA. This country didn't disrespect NIXON this badly and he had to resign he was so corrupt and criminal. Let's speak truth. PRESIDENT OBAMA IS THE MOST DISRESPECTED PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICA and don't tell me because he's doing such a bad job. No president can get anything done when republican representatives and senators say that making the President a one-term president is their primary goal. That's never been said about a PRESIDENT in our history. And, we have 3 years' of evidence that the republicans have been hell-bent on doing just that by being derilic in their duties as members of congress. Remember, Congress has a worst approval rating than PRESIDENT OBAMA. Rick, you're no different from the typical republican. Same old crap, different day.

    January 23, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. gg

    must be something in ocean air or the fog

    January 23, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Joe

    Here's the proper response, courtesy of Barney Frank: ""On what planet do you spend most of your time? Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table... I have no interest in doing it."

    January 23, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Maggie

    Whether you like it or not Obama is half Muslim. Hiis father was a Muslim and also he was brought up in a Muslim home when he was growing up in Indonesia. He may not be a practicing Muslim but he has a heritage from the Muslim religion. That being said, why is CNN making this a issue because the democrats are always discussing Romney's Mormon religtion. So why is it okay for Romney's religion to be scrutinized and not Obama's. The main street media is so one-sided on Obama's side that it makes me sick. If Romney's religion can be discussed why cant the same thing happen to Obama with his Muslim heritage.

    January 23, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. Irish Chris

    Oh my goodness! It really concerns me that there are people in this country who are so ignorant and spew lies as though it were fact, to simply bolster their opinion.
    As for Santorum, SHAME ON HIM. You sir, are running for President of the United States. I would be sorely disappointed if you won however I respect the office enough to accept and defend you as our President. I would hope that a 'Statesman', such as yourself, would be able to rise above the fray and do the same courtesy to President Obama. Oh and by the way, the reason you are not in the Senate doing something about it is because you lost the votes, probably around the same time you lost your integrity and became a politician and not a representative of the people. You are accurate in one assumption, that you don't have to correct every little thing you don't agree on but at least have the courage to stand by the truth and that is, quite simply that President Obama is the PRESIDENT, regardless of uneducated point of view of that lady. It would be a sad day for America, when a man who lacks the conviction to correct an ignorant statement put out for the world to digest, could become President. I may be for the Democrats but I would stand behind Ron Paul, Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich before I would ever stand behind your campaign. A truth remains a truth, even if you lack the strength of character to recognize it.

    January 23, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. Paula

    If this dimwit broad doesn't believe Obama is legally President, it would has been a futile attempt to get her to believe he
    wasn't a muslim. That's just the nature of psychotic behavior. But Rick Santorum should have at least tried.

    January 23, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. JuanVonDinklus

    coming soon to a town near you in florida, bigots r us. We hate anyone with a different "hue" to them and we hate anyone that disagrees with us. Let us live our lives the way we want as we tell you to live your life the way we think you should. yes, we are bigots r us (aka GOP)

    January 23, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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