An interesting press gaggle today between White House Deputy Press Secretary and reporters on board Air Force one.
The Pew Research Center poll came up. The poll shows that a growing number of Americans think President Obama is a Muslim. Burton pretty much blew it off and said it wasn’t an important issue.
Don’t get me wrong: the economy is the number one issue for sure but when you start seeing an increase in people thinking the President is a Muslim then that seems pretty significant. Why? Because it’s showing that more people are not trusting him. The trust issue is important. Plus, news flash: the last time I checked America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles so it's kind of important when you see a poll that says a growing number of Americans think you might be a Muslim. The President continues to tell everyone he's a Christian but yet the number rises. You can make the argument on paper that President Obama has done a checklist of faith based speeches and activities but reality check: it doesn't seem to be resonating much.
Look, President Obama had this Muslim perception problem during the campaign and now you add to it the comments about the mosque, his tough approach towards Israel and the fact that he is not regularly attending Church (no visuals to speak of) then you know what? The perception problem is only going to get worse. The White House may not care but when will they care? When 28% think he’s a Muslim? 33%? 39%. There’s a danger zone here.
Burton’s comments are below.
Q The Pew poll came out today and there’s some numbers on there that are interesting -- one showing that the number of Americans who believe that the President is Muslim has gone up, while the number of Americans who believe the President is Christian has gone down. What do you guys make of that?
MR. BURTON: Well, I think you have to understand that for most Americans, they’re not reading a lot in the news about what religion the President is and anything other -- what they’re focused on is, you know, what you guys are focused on, which is important issues like what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, what’s going on in the economy, what are we doing to create jobs -- all these different issues. And so the President is obviously a -- is Christian. He prays every day. He communicates with his religious advisor every single day. There’s a group of pastors that he takes counsel from on a regular basis. And his faith is very important to him, but it’s not something that is a topic of conversation every single day.
Q So why do you think the American public has got these opinions of him that he’s a Muslim and not a Christian?
MR. BURTON: I just think people are focused on other issues and not paying all that much attention to exactly what the President does with his spirituality. But as you all know and have covered extensively, he is Christian and his faith is very important to him.
Q Could the White House have -- could the President speak more about his religion to counter this perception that he isn’t Christian? He has talked about his faith in the past. Could the White House have him come out and talk about it more?
MR. BURTON: He has spoken about his faith extensively in the past. You can bet that he’ll talk about his faith again. You could always play the “would-of, could-of, should-of,” but the President’s top priority here isn’t making sure that Americans know what a devout Christian he is, it’s making sure that we’re getting the economy on track and we’re creating jobs in this country.
Q Is it frustrating to him though that so many people have this misperception? Did he have a reaction to these poll findings, do you know?
MR. BURTON: I didn’t talk to him about it, so I don’t know what his reaction was. But I can’t imagine that he is all that focused on some poll like this.
Q It suggests that the Americans -- the American people don’t really know him. I mean, is that something that bothers him?
MR. BURTON: I think that’s extrapolating too much from one poll, one day, and one of its questions.