NEW ORLEANS (Associated Press) - President Barack Obama said Sunday he isn't worried about a recent poll showing that nearly one-fifth of Americans believe he is a Muslim. "The facts are the facts," said Obama, who is a Christian. In an interview broadcast on "NBC Nightly News," the president blamed the confusion over his religious beliefs on "a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly."
A poll released earlier this month by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center showed that 18 percent of people believe Obama is Muslim. That was up from 11 percent who said so in March 2009. Just 34 percent said Obama is Christian, down from 48 percent who said so last year.
"I'm not gonna be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on out there," Obama said Sunday. "If I spend all my time chasing after that, then I wouldn't get much done."
Asked about persistent accusations that he wasn't born in the United States, the president responded, "I can't spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead."
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NBC anchorman Brian Williams also asked Obama about conservative commentator Glenn Beck's rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday. While he didn't watch the event, Obama said, "I think that Mr. Beck and the rest of those folks were exercising their rights under our Constitution exactly as they should."
The president acknowledged the ralliers' concerns about the economy and terrorism and observed, "Given the fact that, you know, in none of these situations are you gonna fix things overnight, it's not surprising that somebody like a Mr. Beck is able to stir up a certain portion of the country."
Obama added: "I have no doubt that we are gonna rebound and rebound strong. But when you're in the middle of it, and if you don't have a job right now, it's a tough, tough situation."
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