Nightly News | September 10, 2010
>>> we shift our focus now to washington and a president shall news conference that came at the end of a week when president obama has been out on the offensive on the economy, blaming republicans for holding back his efforts to improve things in this country. once again he was forced to talk about other issues including the florida pastor who threatened to burn the holy koran . we get details now from our white house correspondent savannah guthrie on the north lawn tonight. good evening.
>> reporter: good evening to you, brian. with election day less than two months away and his party facing the prospect of a blowout in the mid-terms, the president was anxious to talk about efforts to improve the economy and put pressure on republicans for not offering better ideas. he spent a fair bit of time trying to quiet a cultural storm over islam in america. on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11, the president found himself trying to lower the national temperature, making an impassioned plea for religious tolerance .
>> we have to make sure that we don't start turning on each other. i will do everything that i can as long as i'm president of the united states , to remind the american people that we are one nation under god. we may call that god different names, but we remain one nation.
>> reporter: nine years after the terrorist attacks, anti-muslim sentiment is seeing a resurgence. a florida pastor's threat to burn the koran this weekend led to protests in afghanistan today. one person was killed, more than ten injured. today, the president sternly warned the florida pastor the act would cause profound damage to u.s. troops .
>> our sons and daughters , fathers and mothers, husbands and wives who are sacrificing for us to keep us safe. you don't play games with that.
>> reporter: after his own comments last month on plans to build an islamic community center and mosque two blocks from ground zero stoked the firestorm, today the president sidestepped the question of whether it was wise for the muslim group to build there but again defended its right to do so.
>> they are our neighbors. they're our friends. they're our co-workers. and, you know, when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?
>> reporter: but the president was quick to point to his own christianity, mindful of recent polls that show nearly 20% of americans believe he is a muslim.
>> as somebody who relies heavily on my christian faith in my job, i understand that the passions that religious faith can raise.
>> reporter: on that koran protest, over the weekend the president said, "my hope is that this individual, the pastor, prays on it and refrains from it." brian?
>> savannah, thanks.