President Obama Fighting the ‘Muslim’ Problem In 2012, Like In 2008 Election


Newt Gingrich has made questions about President Barack Obama and the president’s “attacks” on the Roman Catholic Church a central theme of his campaign. So has Rick Santorum.

Both turned up the burner on the rhetoric last week — Gingrich by asking why Obama does things that make voters question his religion, and Santorum by unveiling an ad — that spliced images of the president with Iranian strongman and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Santorum’s team says the visual juxtaposition was unintentional.
Of the four remaining prominent hopefuls who have won states in the GOP primary, Mitt Romney is the one who has steered clear of stoking the embers within the Republican Party that insist Obama is a Muslim. It’s an untruth about the Christian president that never totally disappeared after 2008 and is back for a second airing.
Beyond a survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, which provocatively asked GOP primary voters in Mississippi and Alabama whether they think Obama is a Muslim — about half of the Republicans in each state said they do — there is no quantifiable data indicating whether this view is widespread.
Yet Romney may inherit the issue as the party’s likely nominee should the same voters — who will never support Obama — show up at his rallies in the fall. And the question will be not just how it presents itself, but how Romney beats it back.
“What the Romney team should be doing is watching this [at their rivals’ rallies] and trying to figure out how they’re going to handle it,” said a veteran Republican strategist and alumnus of presidential races, adding that Gingrich’s approach bothers a majority of Republican surrogates, strategists and candidates.
In recent weeks, both Gingrich and Santorum have faced voters at their rallies who erroneously believe that Obama is a Muslim. Both Republicans have, to varying degrees, taken a pass on the chance to swat down those comments. Gingrich, especially, has intensified the inflammatory rhetoric.
“I think it’s absurd to talk the way Newt did,” said Charlie Black, a former John McCain strategist who is now an informal Romney adviser. “If he thinks he’s playing for votes, that’s absurd. It crosses the line of civility. On matters of race and religion, people running for national office have an obligation to be extremely careful not to get near a line of race and religion, let alone [cross] it.”
“They certainly know what John did,” Black said, referring to McCain’s flat rejection of the allegations that Obama was a Muslim in 2008, adding that Romney doesn’t engage in spreading conspiracy theories.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Politico