GRASS VALLEY (AP) — A California Republican who is running for Congress says he believes President Obama was a Muslim before he became a Christian, according to a newspaper report.
Former state Sen. Sam Aanestad of Grass Valley made the comments during an interview with Chico radio station KZFR last week, the Chico Enterprise-Record reported Thursday.
In the interview, Aanestad said: "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."
Aanestad said he made similar comments when asked if he believed Obama was a Muslim at a tea party meeting in Paradise about a month ago. He repeated those claims at a press conference Monday.
Obama has written that by the time he was born, his father had become an atheist. His father divorced his mother when he was 2, and he rarely saw his father when he was growing up child.
Aanestad, a Grass Valley dentist, is running for a congressional seat that is being vacated by Rep. Wally Herger, who is retiring.