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Hillary On The Muslim Question

She spoke to Steve Croft of "60 Minutes" tonight. Excerpt, with italics added by me:

Croft: You don't believe that Senator Obama's a Muslim? 

Clinton: Of course not. I mean, that's, you know--there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that.

Croft: You said you take Senator Obama at his word that he's not a Muslim. You don't believe that he's a Muslim? 

Clinton: No, no. Why would I? There's no--no, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.

Croft: It's just scurrilous--

Clinton: Look, I have been the target of so many ridiculous rumors that I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time. 

This is about 95 percent the correct and proper answer. And yet, what's with the weird qualifiers? ("I take him on the basis of what he says"; "as far as I know.") I doubt this was about anything more than verbal sloppiness. But particularly given the way people see a conspiracy behind every Clinonite utterance, Hillary should have dispatched this question with one crisp sentence saying it's just not true.

[Video via Ben Smith

--Michael Crowley