The Slatest

Donald Trump: I’m Not “Morally Obligated” to Defend Obama

Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to push back against those who criticized him for failing to correct a supporter who said President Obama is a Muslim and not an American. “We know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American,” said the man, who at one point also noted that “we have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims.” Both Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls criticized Trump on Friday for not standing up for the president of the United States. But that’s not his job, the Republican frontrunner for the presidency said on Saturday.

A few minutes later, Trump struck a bemused tone:

Then he seemed to think up of a new line of defense, arguing that it was OK not to back Obama because the commander-in-chief would never do the same for him.  

And 21 minutes later, Trump came up with a new explanation: He couldn’t say anything because doing so would have meant hurting his supporter’s freedom of speech.

Finally, Trump ended his Twitter defense by trying to change the subject away from what his supporter said and onto the issue of how Obama has been “horrible” at protecting the “religious liberty” of Christians.

White House spokesman Josh Earneston said on Friday that the statement illustrated the kind of supporters Trump has been attracting. “Is anybody really surprised that this happened at a Donald Trump rally?” Trump’s campaign manager insisted the candidate did not hear the part of the question in which his supporter mentioned Obama was a Muslim. Yet his failure to denounce the statement may really just be pandering to the majority of GOP voters—54 percent—who believe Obama is a Muslim, pointed out Slate’s Jeremy Stahl.