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. Luke Brown

    Intellectually dishonesty is not his strong suit.

    January 23, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. Raina

    . . .And what if he was?

    January 23, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. @maggie

    were you the brain dead woman in the crowd?

    January 23, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. John in Brooklyn

    The issue is less about whether Rick Santorum agreed or did not agree with the speaker. The larger – and more dangerous one, in fact, – is that the GOP attracts, enables, and mobilizes people like this woman. There is one thing worse than ignorant bigots – people who actively allow the ignorance and bigotry to never be called into question....which is what Rick Santorum did today and which the GOP does EVERY day. Shame on Rick Santorum...but a greater shame on the entire GOP for not shutting down people like this.

    January 23, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. willie floyd

    I didn't have much respect for him to start with-he just blew what was there out the door. Have that many people forgotten that our country was founded on freedom of RELIGION? Even if he was a Muslim it shouldn't matter. Agree with someone back there-he's a far better Christian than some people I know who only profess to be.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    January 23, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. 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. Newt used that trick with the Fox News debate, Juan Williams (who by the way are good friends). Plant the questions that will make them rise up for the occasion and get a little mileage! O.K. that is such an old trick! This woman got paid to say that stupid mess about our President.
    Fact! This man Rick, the stupid, dwindling and worsening in his campaign and want recover or any other Republican candidate doesn’t measure up to the character or wisdom of our President.

    January 23, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. John in Brooklyn

    To Maggie,

    Ahem. Mulsim is not a genetic trait. Muslim is a belief system – like Christianity. And, my friend, if you are born again (which I would assume, considering your obvious concern about President Obama's faith) then you would already know that.

    January 23, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. shoegazer

    Cue the banjo boy from Deliverance in 3...2...1....................

    January 23, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. Jaya

    Unfortunately, in order to energize their base, the GOP/FOX political block are compelled to nurture ignorant racism, even if its delusional psychosis. Just listen to the NRA cry that Obama's going to take their guns away. Ah, the banality of evil.

    January 23, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. Brian

    Shame on you Rick Santorum. You've sold your soul for a vote instead of speaking out against racism and bigotry.

    January 23, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. RINO Bil

    Santorum is a small man whose 15 minutes are just about up.

    January 23, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. vic , nashville ,tn

    8.5% unemployment rate doesn’t bother them
    Deficit doesn’t bother them
    High Foreclosures doesn’t bother them

    Only one person worries them is Obama

    January 23, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  13. S.positive

    President Obama will win re-election in Nov 2012

    January 23, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    At least McCain had the decency to correct a similar crazy person spouting that manure at one of his rallies four years ago. So Santorum has just proved he has less decency than McCain.

    January 23, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. Ely Robbins

    @Maggie I don't even know where to start. Romney IS Mormon. Obama IS Christian. There is no quid pro quo here. The only issue at play is the insistence, against all evidence to the contrary, that Obama is Muslim. BTW, I believe the 'Muslim religion' is better known as Islam. But maybe that's just me.

    January 23, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. Dan J

    He doesn't lose points in my book for ignoring the absurd, racially tinged question. But he also didn't gain any points.

    January 23, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. Gina

    OBAMA 2012

    January 23, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  18. T'sah From Virginia

    ►Santorum ignores charge Obama is a Muslim◄
    Yes, a "birther" at its best – his cup is full to the brim
    He tries to "cover up" the racism while using fake concern about the Blacks
    Listen to him in the debates, Blackness roles off his lips like he’s got our backs!

    He had a chance to correct this woman – just like McCain did in a meeting at a Town Hall
    His real message would still have gotten through and he would be still standing tall
    But he chose NOT to state the facts “fearing” he’ll lose some of his “so-called” ground
    And does he really cares? NO!! He’ll do it again when the next “opportunity” comes around

    It all “leaks” out slowly and the candidates from the right just can’t help themselves!!!

    Obama 2012

    January 23, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  19. silverfox

    With Christian role models such as Rick Santorum, it's no wonder more and more people, particularly the educated young people of our country, are rejecting religion and becomes more open to accept atheism . It's a sad day for America that a man like him actually was accepted as a possible candidate for the Presidency of our country.

    January 23, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  20. malcolm in St Louis

    he would rather let the lies sit there unchallenged. It fits the narrative of the republicans want the dumb electorate to think this way. He has no personal integrity. He would have corrected the premise of the question if he had.

    January 23, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  21. Ben Dover

    They are Republicans...enough said.

    January 23, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  22. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    I hope he's asked about this in the debate tonight.

    January 23, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  23. Xugos

    McCain had class.

    Santorum? Not so much.

    January 23, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  24. techlady911

    I cannot believe I am saying this, but...any chance someone could recruit McCain to run this year? At least he was a decent man. Santorum is too blinded by his own self-righteousness to refuse to tolerate such disrespect and nonsense. The rest of the Republican field is no better. I'm afraid his (McCain's) kind are becoming extinct.

    January 23, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  25. Misneb

    Mr. Santorum has every responsibility to correct every mistake that is told by supporters in his presence. He cannot run away from the topic just by saying 'I am not responsible and the President can defend himself'. Of-course the President does defend himself and will once again astoundingly win the re-election. Congratulations! Mr. President you have the support of many good citizens.

    January 23, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
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