Apparently "I take him at his word" is not just something politicians say off the cuff. It's a prepared talking point.
An aide to Missouri Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence accidentally emailed talking points prepared for Spence in the case of him being asked if President Obama is a Muslim following his recent gaffe, and the prepared response is "I take him at his word."
“This is not an issue that I felt was pertinent to my candidacy for governor and expressed those sentiments. However, if the media insists that this is a critical issue that must be addressed, I will be clear. President Obama says he is a Christian, and I take him at his word.”
Right. If the media insists that I do so, I will serve a wink and a nod to my base of support.
"I take him at his word" falls within the realm of plausible deniability as it can also be read as "he says he's a Christian, but he may be lying."
Given that the obvious response to the question of whether or not the president is a Muslim is "No," the nuance involved in these prepared remarks proves that they're trying to skate a fine line between affirmation and denial. Because when you're running for office, you can't risk offending the lunatic base, right?
This wouldn't be a thing if the president were white. We wouldn't even be discussing this.