At a Donald Trump event Thursday night in New Hampshire, a man asking a question prefaced it by saying that President Obama is a Muslim.
Trump is now drawing some heat for:
- Not in any way disagreeing with that premise.
- Kind-of maybe also agreeing with the guy's conspiracy theory that there are extremist training camps in the United States that need to be rooted out.
Trump did seem somewhat dismissive of the man's question, but in an interview with The Post afterward, Trump's campaign manager declined to say whether Trump believes Obama is a Muslim. This despite the president talking for years about his Christian faith.
Well, if Trump doesn't disagree that Obama is a Muslim, he's got plenty of company within his own base. According to a poll released just this week, as many as 54 percent of Trump supporters hold this incorrect belief.
From Sarah Pulliam Bailey:
Even though President Obama nods to his Christian faith regularly in both serious and light-hearted settings, a large number of Americans still believe he is a Muslim. According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 29 percent of Americans say they think that Obama is a Muslim, including 43 percent of Republicans.
Sixty-one percent of Democrats say Obama is a Protestant, compared with 28 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of independents. Also, according to CNN, 54 percent of those who support Donald Trump say they believe Obama is a Muslim.
Another poll this month pegged the number of Republicans overall who think Obama is a Muslim at 54 percent — higher than the 43 percent in the CNN poll. As we wrote, that figure was likely inflated. But it's also clear that a very significant portion of the GOP holds this view. And that's been the case unabated for years. (CNN's numbers are also on the high end historically, which could mean this perception is on the rise or simply that this poll is a little different.)
And is it really a surprise that this sizable chunk of the Republican Party would ally with Trump? This is the guy, after all, who for months and months led the birther charge against Obama, suggesting his birth story was a fabrication.
Trump hasn't necessarily linked his Obama-wasn't-born-here allegations to the Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim allegation, but the two are really part-and-parcel. So to the extent that 4 in 10 Republicans — or even 3 in 10 if that number is a little high — believe Obama is a Muslim, they're likely to go for the guy who has raised very public questions about the president's background. And given all you need is 30 percent of the vote to lead the GOP primary, you can build a very significant base among these Republicans.
As we see The Donald handle questions at his town halls going forward, you can bet there will be plenty of folks who believe what the man who called Obama a Muslim agrees.
Trump could surely do a much better job of handling the situation, but if he disagreed with the man publicly — which he has yet to do — he might be alienating a majority of his supporters.