WASHINGTON – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective Republican presidential contender, said Saturday he does not know whether President Obama is a Christian.
"I don't know," Walker said in an interview at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington, where he was attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.
Told that Obama has frequently spoken publicly about his Christian faith, Walker maintained that he was not aware of the president's religion.
"I've actually never talked about it or I haven't read about that," Walker said. "I've never asked him that," he added. "How could I say if I know either of you are a Christian?"
Walker said such questions from reporters are reflective of a broader problem in the nation's political-media culture, which he described as fixated on issues that are not relevant to most Americans.
Walker said he does not believe that most Americans care about such matters. "I would defy you to come to Wisconsin. You could ask 100 people, and not one of them would say that this is a significant issue," he said.
After the interview, Walker spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster called the Washington Post to say the governor was trying to make a point of principle by not answering such kinds of questions, not trying to cast doubt on Obama's faith.
"Of course the governor thinks the president is a Christian," she said. "He thinks these kinds of gotcha questions distract from what he's doing as governor of Wisconsin."
Walker's comments Saturday came after a week in which he was asked repeatedly whether he agreed with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani when he said at a private dinner last Wednesday that he was not sure whether Obama loves his country. Walker was a guest at the dinner.
Walker again declined Saturday to weigh in on Giuliani's characterization of the president's patriotism and background.
"I honestly don't know, one way or the other," Walker said. "I've said that 100 times, too."
Later Saturday, Walker was scheduled to attend a gathering of conservative leaders with anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.
Some figures on the right have consistently questioned Obama's faith, with some suggesting that he is a Muslim. Obama, however, has often talked about his Christian faith, as he did recently at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Walker said Saturday that if he runs for president, he will focus on problems affecting the country, from tax policy and the economy to confronting terrorists.