Port Fourchon, Louisiana - Newt Gingrich suggested Friday that it's President Obama's fault for leading people to believe that he's Muslim.
Gingrich has repeatedly said the president is a practicing Christian, but asked whether he's bothered by the proportion of the electorate who disagree, the candidate replied, "It should bother the president. Why does the president behave the way that people would think that? You have to ask why would they believe that? It's not cause they're stupid."
On the stump, Gingrich has been badgering the White House for taking "anti-Christian" positions while at the same time "apologizing" to Muslim extremists. Until now, however, he has stopped short of saying that the president is producing reason for people to believe he's Muslim.
"Why is it he's more sensitive to radical Islamists who are killing young Americans than he is to the Catholic church, to Baptists, to fundamentalists?" he asked Wednesday in an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. "I mean, the fact is, this is a very strange presidency."
The candidate has been ramping up his rhetoric about the Muslim faith while campaigning in southern states. In a radio interview Thursday with the American Family Association's Sandy Rios, Gingrich blamed the "elite media" for hiding the president's association with Muslims.
"It's just astonishing to me how pro-Obama they are," the candidate said. "Do you think you are going to see two pages on Obama's Muslim friends? Or two pages on the degree to which Obama is consistently apologizing to Islam while attacking the Catholic Church." Gingrich's comments came in response to a Washington Post story about Rick Santorum's association with the Catholic group Opus Dei. Gingrich, too, is Catholic, having converted after marrying his third wife, Callista.
A PPP poll conducted this month found that more than half of Mississippi Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim, while 36 percent said they were unsure. In Alabama, PPP found that 45 percent of Alabama Republicans believe he's Muslim and 41 percent aren't sure.
Gingrich drew criticism on Wednesday for failing to correct a supporter who said President Obama is a Muslim, and Gingrich said news coverage was, "total baloney."
"The guy didn't ask me a question," he said. "The guy got up and stated his opinion. I don't have an obligation to go around and correct every single voter about every single topic. I also didn't agree with him." Gingrich noted that he told a reporter after the town hall he believed the president is Christian.