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Ganley Calls Obama’s Religion ‘Irrelevant’ to Campaign

Updated: 6:10 p.m.

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Cleveland-area Republican House candidate Tom Ganley declined to indicate Thursday whether he thinks President Barack Obama is Muslim.

“I don’t have a position on whether he’s a Muslim,” Ganley said Thursday in a telephone interview with Roll Call.

The wealthy car dealer’s comments came just hours after the Pew Research Center released a poll suggesting that “nearly one-in-five Americans” think Obama is Muslim. The new 18 percent figure is a dramatic upswing from March 2009, when a similar survey put that figure at 11 percent. The study also showed that 43 percent do not “know what Obama’s religion is.”

Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted the Pew survey, which interviewed 3,003 adults between July 21 and Aug. 5.

In a statement later Thursday afternoon, Ganley sought to clarify his earlier comment about Obama.

“During an interview earlier today, I was asked a question about President Obama’s religion that I felt irrelevant to the story being written about my campaign for Congress,” he said. “I do not believe President Obama’s religion has any impact on the need for jobs in Ohio’s 13th district. According to the White House, our President is a Christian and I have no reason to believe otherwise.”

Ganley is challenging Rep. Betty Sutton (D) in Ohio’s 13th district in November, and the contest is expected to be both expensive and nasty. Ganley has already loaned his campaign $6.5 million and had $6.7 million in cash as of June 30. As of midsummer, Sutton had $930,000 in the bank.

On Thursday, Ganley also declined to say how deep he would dig to finance his campaign.

“Everyone has a limit as to what they’re willing to spend,” he said. “But I’m not willing to disclose that.”

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