A Trump Rally Attendee Called Obama A Muslim. Trump Didn't Disagree

Photo: Erik Pendzich/REX Shutterstock.
Long before he was a presidential candidate leading in the polls, Donald Trump was a die-hard adherent to one of the ugliest smear tactics in American politics: the idea that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim who wasn't really born here. But the 2015 incarnation of Trump's campaign has been relatively free of that particular tactic — until this week.

Trump attended a town-hall meeting in Rochester, NH, on Thursday, where a man with some interesting (read: incorrect, offensive) ideas about our president got hold of the mic. He started his question with a bunch of statements such as, "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American."

Trump didn't correct him, but backed him up, saying, "We need this question. This is the first question."

The man went on to formulate an actual question, asking, "Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question: When can we get rid of them?" To which Trump provided a nonanswer, saying, "You know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We're going to be looking at that and many other things."

Is that the same as Trump himself repeating the assertion that Obama is a Muslim? No, but almost. Presidential candidates get asked crazy things all the time. It's one of the dangers of taking questions from the public. Part of the job is figuring out how to answer the question while still registering your opposition to its premise. Perhaps Trump could have said something like, "Nope, I think he's a loser President, but he's definitely American," or "Here, our laws don't let us 'get rid of' people based on their religion. Obama sucks!"

Perhaps he should have responded like GOP Sen. John McCain, who got a similar question in 2008 when he was running against Obama — but corrected the questioner instead.

Trump's political opponents were quick to criticize. Hillary Clinton tweeted, "Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out. -H" Bernie Sanders called for him to apologize, labeling it "a disgrace."

Even some Republicans disagreed with Trump; Chris Christie said the candidate shouldn't have allowed it.

Later on, Corey Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager, claimed that Trump wasn't aware the questioner had called Obama a Muslim at all, saying, "All he heard was a question about training camps, which he said we have to look into. The media want to make this an issue about Obama, but it's about him waging a war on Christianity."


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