The Republican ranks have, by and large, cautiously avoided weighing in on recent poll numbers showing that a healthy portion of the American public believes that President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
Wary of the cultural sensitivities such discussions entail, the de facto response seems to be the one offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday: "The president says he's a Christian," McConnell said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I take him at his word. I don't think that's in dispute."
There have been a few notable exceptions. Congressional candidate Tom Ganley said last week that he did not have "a position on whether he's a Muslim" only to walk back his remarks amidst the uproar. No one in the official GOP tent, however, has fully embraced the rumor. Until now.
Last Friday, a Republican National Committee woman Kim Lehman, responding to an article about the polls in Politico, accused the publication of trying "to protect Obama" by denying his true religious heritage.
"BTW he personally told the muslims that he IS a muslim," wrote the Iowa RNC member. "Read his lips."
A few Iowa progressive blogs picked up on her remarks. But beyond that they went largely ignored. Lehman, who also works for The John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute, appears to be the first national committee member to fully endorse the Obama-is-a-Muslim view.
Reached on the phone Monday, Lehman stood by her initial tweet, arguing that it was during his speech that Obama let the real truth slip.
"I was watching television when he was over there talking to the Muslim world and he made it, in my opinion, clear he was partially Muslim," Lehman told the Huffington Post. "The way he was approaching that speech was, 'Hey I'm one of you. I'm with you.' He didn't have to say that... but he did."
Obama's speech in Cairo did include discussion about his father's Muslim faith. But the president also made it abundantly clear, both then and many times since, that he was a practicing Christian. Asked why she didn't believe the empirical and overwhelming evidence, Lehman replied:
"Again, going back to his speech... he would have said I'm a Christian and I'm from the Christian religion and we can work together. It didn't appear to me he said Christianity was part of his religion."
For the record, here is the relevant portion of Obama's speech (emphasis ours):
Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I'm a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.