PITTSBURGH -- Barack Obama said he is frustrated by questions about his religious beliefs and patriotism, particularly because his presidential rivals are not questioned in the same way.
"It frustrates me that people would even have a question about something like that because they don't ask the same questions of some of the other candidates and that concerns me," Obama said here Monday night.
During the last weeks of campaigning, Obama has spent much of his time telling voters that questions concerning his religion, patriotism, and the "bitter" controversy are all manufactured distractions and political games. In many cases, he has blamed Hillary Clinton for instigating some of these distractions, admonishing her for not learning from attacks against her during the 1990s.
However, last night, another Pennsylvania voter asked Obama about the rumors that he may be Muslim.
"I heard on the news the other day that still approximately 10% of this country still believe you are Muslim, not that there is anything wrong with being Muslim, but are you doing anything to try and dispel those rumors?," the voter asked.
Obama blamed these rumors on e-mails, calling them "political dirty tricks" that the media has picked up on. "I am a Christian and have been a Christian. But you made an important point which is it's not just that I'm a Christian and these e-mails are misinforming people, they're also feeding on anti-Muslim sentiment and that's also wrong because we don't have a religious test in this country," Obama said. "So, I want to make sure that nobody gets hoodwinked, and if anyone gets that information you make sure you correct it because we want to make sure everybody has accurate information."
He voluntarily addressed rumors about his patriotism, telling the audience about his grandfather's military service during World War II.
"I think about the service he rendered and the service our current veterans render and that generations have rendered to make it possible for me to stand here today," he said.
"So if anybody gets the e-mail, that's not true."