President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAbrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda The root of Joe Biden's troubles MORE’s top spokesman slammed Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE on Friday for failing to condemn a supporter who claimed Obama is a Muslim who was born abroad.
“Is anybody really surprised this happened at a Donald Trump rally?” White House press secretary Josh Earnest asked reporters. “I don’t think anybody who has been paying attention to Republican politics are really surprised.”
Earnest painted the incident as an indictment of the entire Republican Party, which he suggested is plagued by supporters with racist views.
He said it was a shame that Trump failed to challenge offensive views of his supporters, as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) famously did at a rally during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Earnest blasted other Republicans for declining to take on Trump, saying “they are looking for those same votes."
He linked the incident to a controversy surrounding Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), whom he referred to as “David Duke without the baggage.” Scalise drew fire earlier this year when it was revealed he addressed a white supremacist group when he was a state legislator.
And Earnest blamed the strain of racist views within the Republican Party for the collapse of immigration reform and Congress’s failure to renew a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
During a rally in New Hampshire on Thursday, Trump declined to address claims by multiple supporters who called Obama a Muslim.
“We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one — you know he’s not even an American. But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question, when can we get rid of them?”
Trump responded: “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things, a lot of people are saying bad things are happening, we’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.”
In the past, Trump has questioned whether Obama was born in the U.S.