Robert Gibbs, an adviser to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign says GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum went "well over the line" when he questioned Obama's Christian values.
Gibbs said on ABC's "This Week" today that it's time "to get rid of this mind-set in our politics that, if we disagree, we have to question character and faith."
The country would be better served if presidential candidates focused instead on the economic challenges the middle class.
Gibbs was castigating Santorum's comments on Saturday that Obama's agenda is tied to "some phony theology" not based on the Bible.
Gibbs' forceful rebuke suggests Obama's campaign is taking Santorum more seriously these days as a potential general election challenger.
For his part, Santorum said today his controversial comments were not meant to question Obama's faith instead to confront the views of radical environmentalists.
"This idea that man is here to serve the earth as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the earth," Santorum said on "Face the Nation" on CBS today. "I think that is a phony ideal. I don't believe that's what we're here to do. We're not here to serve the earth. The earth is not the objective, man is the objective. I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside down."
The former Pennsylvania senator sadi, "I wasn't suggesting the president's not a Christian," he said. "It's not questioning the president's believe and Christianity."
Propelling the dust-up were comments Santorum made during a campaign stop Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, when he said: "It's not about you, it's not about your quality of life, it's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology."