ByÂ GLENN THRUSH, Politico
PresidentÂ Barack Obama dismissed a recent poll showing that a third of Americans donâ€™t know heâ€™s a Christian â€“ and blamed an online campaign of misinformation by his conservative enemies for perpetuating the myth that heâ€™s a Muslim.
Obama, speaking with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Sunday afternoon, was equally dismissive of conservative talk show hostÂ Glenn Beck â€“ saying he didnâ€™t watch the Fox hostâ€™s Saturday rally in Washington but wasnâ€™t surprised that Beck was able to â€œstir upâ€ people during uncertain economic times.
Williams, sitting under a tent in a rain-soaked New Orleans, where the First Family commemorated the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, asked Obama why so many people were uncertain about something so fundamental as his faith.
â€œI canâ€™t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead,â€ quipped Obama, who took a deep breath to gather his thoughts when asked if the poll reflected his inability to communicate with voters.
â€œThe facts are the facts. We went through some of this during the campaign â€” there is a mechanism, a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly,â€ said a visibly annoyed Obama, referring to â€œbirthers,â€ who have waged a guerrilla campaign questioning either the existence or the validity of his Hawaiian birth certificate.
â€œI will always put my money on the American people, and Iâ€™m not going to be worried too much about what rumors are floating around there.â€
A stunning 18 percent of Americans identify Obama as Muslim, according to a Pew poll released earlier this month. Only a third identified Obama, who speaks passionately about his faith in his autobiography, asÂ Christian.
Obama, who just returned from a long vacation on Marthaâ€™s Vineyard said he didnâ€™t watch Glenn Beckâ€™s massive rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, adding that he was focused on the long-term, not on the â€œNightly News.â€
â€œItâ€™s not surprising that someone like a Mr. Beck is able to stir up a certain portion of [the American people]. â€¦ Thatâ€™s been true throughout our history,â€ he said.
Obama doubled down on his support for a mosque and community center planned for a site two blocks north of ground zero in lower Manhattan â€“ and denied reports that he tried to back away from backing the controversial project.
â€œI didnâ€™t walk it back it all,â€ he said. â€œI was very specific with my teamâ€¦ The core value and principle that every American is treated the same doesnâ€™t changeâ€¦ At [a White House Ramadan celebration], I had Muslim Americans who had been in uniform fighting in Iraqâ€¦ How can you say to them that their religious faith is less worthy of respect?… Thatâ€™s something that I feel very strongly about.â€
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