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GOP tea party backer defends Christine O’Donnell but…

By David Edwards and Ron Brynaert
Monday, September 20, 2010 12:30 EDT
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Also, former O’Donnell aide ‘still believes’ Obama is ‘secret Muslim’

Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) supports Republican senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell but says she should explain herself to Delaware voters.

The Associated Press reports,

Rep. Mike Pence tells ABC’s “Good Morning America” any verdict on O’Donnell’s fitness to serve in the Senate is “up to the voters of Delaware.” The Indiana Republican says there’s a welling up of anger and a demand for political leaders who will “put our fiscal house in order.”

He spoke about a decade-old television clip of O’Donnell, who said she once “dabbled into witchcraft.” Pence says the election is more about the message than the messenger. He won a presidential straw vote among social conservatives over the weekend.

On Saturday, “the No. 3 man in the House Republican leadership” — as AP dubs him — “won the Values Voters Summit straw poll for the 2012 presidential race by securing 24 percent of the vote,” The Hill reported.

Pence said “that the country has benefited from the Tea Party by helping to make congressional spending a campaign issue.”

“The borrowing, the bailouts, the deficit, the takeovers; the Tea Party or the town-hall movement, whatever you want to call it, is really an expression of millions of everyday Americans that are saying ‘enough is enough,’ ” he told MSNBC. “We need to put our fiscal house in order, we need to put this nation back on a pathway toward fiscal solvency and job growth and respect for values. And in that sense, I think the Tea Party will ultimately have been a great, great benefit to America.”

At his blog, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos remarked, “He’s welcome back to ‘GMA’ in November to make the announcement…”

Referring to controversial comments made by the tea party candidate in the past, Pence said on Good Morning America that the O’Donnell campaign “know[s] there will be this nitpicking and attempts to take things out of context.”

CBS News reports,

CBS News political analyst John Dickerson said on “The Early Show” that however old O’Donnell’s past remarks are, they are still a distraction and “a barrier between her and trying to tell voters what she actually believes.”

“In Delaware, a blue state, she’s going to have to convince independent voters outside of the Tea Party group that has already elected her, and so this is going to give them some questions about her,” he said.

The report adds, “So far, O’Donnell has brushed off the remarks, as well as Rove’s criticism, joking on Twitter, ‘I did comment that if I were a witch, Rove would be a supporter. I would have turned him into a ‘Newt’, because Gingrich says we win.”

Meanwhile, Mother Jones reports that O’Donnell “has had on her campaign staff a longtime conservative activist who last year wrote an article suggesting President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim.”

David Corn reports,

According to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission by O’Donnell’s failed 2008 Senate campaign and by her current campaign, Jon Moseley has worked for O’Donnell in both of these Senate bids. In a recent statement issued in support of her and disseminated by ChristianNewsWire, Moseley described himself as the manager of her unsuccessful 2008 campaign against then-Sen. Joe Biden. Moseley has also served as a campaign treasurer for O’Donnell. But Moseley is not a political operative. For decades, he’s worked for conservative policy groups. A 2008 bio noted that he has been employed by the Heritage Foundation and Judicial Watch, as well as various congressional campaigns. It identified him as the executive director of a group called American Border Control, which says it “works for 100% American control of ports of entry.” (In describing its mission on its website, the organization reports it has collaborated with anti-immigration crusader Tom Tancredo “trying to secure American borders.”)

In 2009, Moseley maintained an intermittent blog that expressed his conservative views. He defended the Bush-Cheney administration’s use of extreme interrogation methods (declaring they were not torture), hailed the tea party movement, maintained that climate change was caused by changes in the sun’s magnetic field, and contended that Obama was and might still be a Muslim.

In an article—titled “Is Barack Hussein Obama (Still) A Muslim?”—Moseley asserted that because Obama had recited to a reporter the Muslim call to prayer (which he apparently learned as a child in Indonesia) he must be a Muslim: “According to Islamic scholars, reciting this Muslim declaration of faith makes one a Muslim.” Moseley noted that “recent events” had prompted “questions about Obama’s [religious] allegiances.” This included Obama’s supposed bow to Saudi Arabian King Abdullah: “Saudi Arabia is the guardian of the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina, making King Abdullah very important and revered among Muslims.” Moseley pointed out that Obama did not bow to Queen Elizabeth, “who is technically the head of the Church of England.” Maintaining that Obama attended school in Indonesia as a Muslim, Mosely noted, “Once a Muslim, always a Muslim.” He argued that Obama’s professed conversion to Christianity was not authentic. To back this up, he cited an interview Obama gave in 2004, during which he said of religious faith, “I believe there are many paths to the same place.” But, Moseley wrote, Jesus “stated there is no other way to God without him.” That is, Obama’s not a true Christian because he’s not a fundamentalist Christian. And in this case not-a-real-Christian equals Muslim.

“Moseley didn’t seem to be kidding,” Corn writes, adding that both Moseley and O’Donnell refused to comment before publication.

However, TPMuckraker’s Ryan J. Reilly was able to reach Moseley.

“Yes, actually, I do,” Jonathan Moseley told TPM on Monday when asked if he still believes that Obama secretly practiced the Islamic faith.

“The reason being that becoming a Christian is more than simply rooting for a football team,” Moseley said. “There’s an actual conversion that takes place. And I don’t think we’ve ever seen evidence that he ever converted.”

….

Moseley, who still supports O’Donnell, does not have a current role in the campaign, he said. With all of O’Donnell’s success, “they can get people with much more experience.”

He never spoke with O’Donnell about his views, and said he began thinking about the issues “long after I left the campaign” and hasn’t spoken with her this election cycle.

Corn later amended his article, adding, “After this piece was published, Moseley claimed that he had not been contacted by Mother Jones. But email requests for comment were sent to an address listed for him at American Border Control. The invitation for him to explain his article and his relationship with O’Donnell stands.”

This video is from CNN’s American Morning, broadcast Sept. 20, 2010.


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