[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/12/art.rnc.gi.jpg caption ="The RNC said Tuesday that a staffer's tweet was meant sarcastically."]Washington (CNN) The Republican National Committee distanced itself Tuesday from a tweet issued by the committee's new media director, Todd Herman, which questioned whether President Obama himself is part of the 20 percent of the country that believes he is a Muslim.
"Watch – Is @BarackObama amongst the 20% who think he's Muslim?" Herman tweeted on Friday. The message included a link to an interview taped during the 2008 campaign in which Obama stumbled while explaining his religious views.
First reported Tuesday by Politico, the tweet prompted the RNC to make clear that President Obama's Christian faith is "crystal clear" and that the tweet was sarcastic in nature.
"An errant, or sarcastically-intended tweet aside, the RNC has never spoken about the President's Christianity because it is both crystal clear and a non-issue," RNC spokesman Doug Heye said in a statement. "What is an issue, and remains foremost in the minds of voters is the failed efforts of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to grow jobs. Today, it was announced that existing home sales plunged by 27%; discussing this issue will serve the voters far better than any nonsense that won't employ a single American."
According to the survey released last week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, nearly one in five Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, up from around one in 10 Americans who said he was Muslim last year.
While most of those who think Obama is Muslim are Republicans, the number of independents who believe he is Muslim has expanded significantly, from 10 percent last year to 18 percent now.
Talk of the poll results dominated Washington discourse last week, forcing the White House to reiterate that President Obama is a Christian.
"President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life," Deputy White House Communications Director Jen Psaki told CNN. "He prays every day, he seeks a small circle of Christian pastors to give him spiritual advice and counseling, he even receives a daily devotional that he uses each morning. The president's Christian faith is a part of who he is, but not a part of what the public or the media is focused on every day."