House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) declined Friday to join many of his colleagues in condemning Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and others for their letters alleging Muslim Brotherhood influence in government.
He hedged when asked on CBS's "This Morning" whether Bachmann was "out of line" -- a sentiment a number of Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), have expressed.
"If you read some of the reports that have covered the story, I think that her concern was about the security of the country," Cantor said. "So that's all I know."
Cantor's silence on the issue comes as more individuals and groups are speaking out against Bachmann and four other GOP members -- Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) -- who sent letters last month asking government agencies to investigate a possible Muslim Brotherhood infiltration.
Those letters received near universal condemnation. McCain said they were "an unwarranted and unfounded attack," while Boehner called the accusations "pretty dangerous." Most recently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 41 other religious and secular groups sent a letter to the lawmakers on Thursday calling for them to stop.
Both Bachmann and Gohmert have mostly declined to speak about the opposition within the party to their letters, other than for Gohmert to say his critics are "numb nuts."
Host Charlie Rose pointed out that Cantor has urged tolerance on the role of Muslims in government, reading from a July 19 Buzzfeed story in which the congressman said it is "absolutely wrong to stereotype or look badly at anyone because of their religion."
"It's a bad thing to look at a Muslim and think bad things," he went on to tell Buzzfeed. "Again, we're all Americans here and we share beliefs in freedom and the ability to practice our faiths."
He did not, in that interview, address Bachmann's comments, which Rose said do not seem to square with his message of inclusion.
Cantor said Friday he feels "very strongly" about that inclusion, brushing off a question on whether the effort by Bachmann and others could damage the perception of the Republican Party.
"I myself am a member of a minority faith and have enjoyed the ability to pursue and practice that faith unlike I could anywhere else in the world, and that is the point here," he said. "We all have the freedom that was given to us by our creator and was memorialized, if you will, in the documents that provide the legal framework for us to live."
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