White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today that nobody should be surprised to hear allegations that President Obama is a Muslim, as suggested by an audience member at a Donald Trump rally on Thursday night.
"Is anybody really surprised this happened at a Donald Trump rally?" Earnest told reporters. "Anybody paying attention to Republican politics isn’t surprised. Offensive views are part of Trump’s base."
Earnest said it was “too bad” that Trump didn’t condemn the questioner as Sen. John McCain had done during the 2008 presidential campaign seven years ago, contending that priority of every Republican candidate is to capture some of Trump’s base.
"Those are the priorities of today’s Republican party and will continue to be until some on in Republican party stands up with courage," Earnest said.
Earnest also told reporters that there is “no evidence” that there are Muslim terrorist training camps in the United States, another question offered up by the unidentified audience member.
After the event, Trump's campaign told ABC News that he had difficulty understanding the question and was referring to mention of training camps. Asked if Trump believed there were camps in the U.S., the campaign said, "Yes.”
“I haven’t seen anybody produce any evidence to substantiate the claim that there are," Earnest responded.
Earnest indicated that President Obama is not personally offended by speculation he is a Muslim, but did express concern that the comments have been used in the past to generate political support.