Dan Gilmore / September 21, 2015

GOP Frontrunners Stumble Over Obama’s ‘Faith’

Welcome to the rollicking political debate known as the media circus.

The three frontrunners in the GOP’s presidential primary have never before held public office, which endears them to voters tired of Washington but is something that hasn’t quite prepared them to do the rhetorical dance with the media, the public and other contenders. Donald Trump has risen in the polls because he hit hot issues in a braggadocio fashion. But he stumbled somewhat when, at a New Hampshire town hall event Thursday, he took a question from a man who claimed Barack Obama was Muslim and asked Trump, “When can we get rid [of Muslims]?” Trump didn’t correct the man (Obama practices the religion of self), and Trump’s omission created an outcry. To be clear, this is a drummed up controversy and Trump didn’t need to correct the man. But as National Review’s Jonah Goldberg writes, “If Trump were an experienced politician instead of an experienced entertainer, he would have instantly recognized the trap that the question posed and neutralized it, regardless of his ‘moral obligations.’” The mud-wrestling match also got Ben Carson dirty. On Sunday, Carson weighed in on “Meet the Press” and said Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution. “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Carson said. It’s not enough to be right on the issues, to vow to clean out Washington. GOP candidates need to be nimble enough to engage the rollicking political debate known as the media circus.

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