On MSNBC this evening, Chris Matthews hosted two representatives of the Tea Party to analyze its influence in Washington: FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe and Phillip Dennis of the Texas Tea Party. Matthews asked Dennis if he thought President Obama is a Muslim, and Dennis immediately launched into a diatribe that ranged from offensive to confusing, but was outlandishly dishonest throughout. He first replied that he “didn’t know” if Obama was a Muslim, but then criticized Obama’s attendance in the Christian church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Dennis then complained that Obama has a “soft spot in his heart” for Islam because he “changed our history saying that Islam has always played a major party in this country.” Dennis noted he had a “big problem with Islam” and concluded by saying Obama “might be Muslim”:
DENNIS: One thing is that President Obama certainly has a soft spot in his heart for Islam. You know, he’s gone back — his first speech was in Egypt, he’s reached out to the Muslims moreso than any other President in the history of the world. He’s even changed our history saying that Islam has always played a major part in this country, when everyone knows that’s not true. You didn’t see our Founding Fathers — weren’t Muslim, they weren’t breaking for prayers five times a day. But this is the type of thing that he’s done, is reaching out. Bowing to the leaders —
MATTHEWS: Where are you on Islam?
DENNIS: … Oh, I have a big problem with Islam. I think that it, uh, they call itself the religion of peace, when every day around the world it continues to show itself to be anything but. So I think those people have a right, certainly it’s understandable that they might have a problem that our President might be Muslim. Absolutely.
Dennis is a fairly major player in the Tea Party movement. He founded the Dallas Tea Party and is the Texas state coordinator of Tea Party Patriots. He is also an adviser to the National Tea Party Coalition. Aside from frequent appearances on Hardball, he writes for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government site and has also written for CNN about the “real Tea Party.” He has previously said that “the Tea Party does not focus on the pigment of people’s skin,” but apparently it does focus on people’s religion, as his bizarre rant indicates. (For the record, President Obama has never said that James Madison faced Mecca five times a day.)
During a segment on Hannity earlier this week, GOP strategist Frank Luntz interviewed a panel of Republican voters in Iowa, and half said they believe Obama is a Muslim. Watch it: