GRASS VALLEY — Congressional candidate Sam Aanestad said Tuesday he was not going to comment further on a meeting in Paradise where he reportedly said President Obama was a Muslim.
He said, in a telephone interview, that the matter, involving a “disruptive woman who was escorted out,” wasn’t worth discussing further.
Aanestad is a former Republican state senator from Grass Valley.
According to Karen Duncanwood of Paradise, Aanestad was a guest at a tea party meeting at a Paradise pizza restaurant about a month ago.
Duncanwood, a supporter of one of Aanestad’s opponents, Democratic congressional candidate Jim Reed, said she went to the meeting to hear what Aanestad had to say. Jim Stellar of Concow, another Reed supporter, also attended.
In a phone interview, Duncanwood said a woman at the meeting told Aanestad she was concerned about “Muslim extremists” getting into the higher echelons of American government.
Duncanwood said Aanestad indicated he agreed with her and suggested the inroads extended to “the Oval Office.”
Then, Duncanwood said, Stellar asked Aanestad if he was calling Obama a Muslim.
Duncanwood said Aanestad replied that he did.
“At that point,” Duncanwood said, “I stood up and said, ‘He’s a Christian. He baptized his children, and he goes to a Christian church.”
She said some other people at the meeting insisted Obama was a Muslim, and after that she was escorted out of the meeting.
Jessica Allen, Chico campaign coordinator for Reed, heard about the incident. She said Stellar told her he wrote a letter about it and sent it to a local newspaper but it wasn’t published. So, she said, she sent information about the incident to several newspapers, including the Enterprise-Record.
Allen said she wasn’t acting on behalf of Reed’s campaign.
Rather, she simply felt the public ought to know what Aanestad had said, she said.
On Monday, when Aanestad was in Chico holding a press conference, two reporters asked him about the Obama comment.
Aanestad said he did think Obama was a Muslim. He said Obama’s father was a Muslim, and that he was raised in a Muslim culture. Now, Obama says he is a Christian, and Aanestad said he has no choice other than to believe that he is a Christian today.
Last week, Aanestad was interviewed by Marc Albert, who does local news reporting on Chico radio station KZFR. Albert told the Enterprise-Record he asked Aanestad about the Obama-Muslim comment and whether he thought Obama was a Muslim.
Albert said he provided Allen with some recorded excerpts from the radio interview. Allen emailed those to the Enterprise-Record.
In one of the radio clips, Aanestad says, “I was asked (at the tea party meeting), do I think he (Obama) is a Muslim. Do I think he is a Muslim? And the answer is yes. That is his background. That is his beginning.
“He may be a Christian today. There’s no way you or I can tell that. But his background, his upbringing, his tradition, his holiday observances — all from the Muslim background. Does he practice Islam, the religion of the Muslims? I don’t think so.”
In 2010, ABC did a news report claiming many Americans wrongly believe Obama is a Muslim.
The report said Obama has written that by the time he was born, his father had become an atheist, that his father divorced his mother when he was 2, and that he rarely saw his father when he was a child.
Staff writer Larry Mitchell can be reached at 896-7759, email@example.com, or followed on Twitter, @LarryMitchell7.
Original post: Aanestad now mum on Muslim comment