GOP frontrunner Donald Trump let an audience member slide at a New Hampshire town hall after the man said Muslims were a “problem in this country” and that the president was not an American…
After the event, Trump’s campaign told ABC News that he had difficulty understanding the question and was referring to mention of training camps. Asked if Trump believed there were camps in the U.S., the campaign said, “Yes.”
The campaign also said the comments about Muslims in America were the opinions of one man in the crowd.
In an interview late Thursday with The Washington Post, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said, “Mr. Trump was asked about training camps. Mr. Trump answered the question and said, ‘If there are any, we will fix it.’ He said, ‘I will look into it.’ The question was specifically about training camps.
“The media wants to make this issue about Obama. The bigger issue is that Obama is waging a war against Christians in this country. They need support and their religious liberty is at stake,” he added.
When asked whether Trump agrees with the questioner and believes that President Obama is a Muslim, Lewandowski said, “I don’t speak for Mr. Trump.” He said “it’s up to the media” if they “want to make this about Obama.”
Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, called the incident a sign of “a lack of moral courage.”
“I don’t know if Trump is using dog-whistle politics to win support in the polls, or if he genuinely believes the racist things he says. Either way, he showed a complete lack of moral courage in that clip, and he has shown once again that he completely unqualified to be President of the United States.”
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz flatly called Trump a racist in a statement.
“GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s racism knows no bounds. This is certainly horrendous, but unfortunately unsurprising given what we have seen already. The vile rhetoric coming from the GOP candidates is appalling,” Schultz said. “(Republicans) should be ashamed, and all Republican presidential candidates must denounce Trump’s comments immediately or will be tacitly agreeing with him.”
Lindsey Graham is not happy with Donald Trump’s failure to correct a supporter who claimed that the president of the United States is Muslim and was not born in America.
“Give me a break,” the South Carolina senator and Republican presidential candidate said in an interview on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports. “You had a chance here to show who you were.”
“At the end of the day, this is a defining moment for Mr. Trump,” he said. “The man in that audience needs to be put in his place by the person answering the question.”…
“Something like this happens?” Graham suggested. “Use it as a teaching moment. Reset the table.”
When Bill O’Reilly asked him if there was a “Muslim problem in the world” during a 2011 interview, Trump replied, “Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, I don’t notice Swedish people knocking down the World Trade Center.” He also opposed the construction of an Islamic community center that foes nicknamed the “Ground Zero mosque” in Lower Manhattan in 2010.
But his weak response in New Hampshire is a sharp contrast to his public persona. Trump constantly touts himself as a man of boldness and bluntness. He dismisses his opponents as weak, soft, and “low energy.” This is the difference between Trump and President Obama, he constantly tells crowds. He’ll build a wall on the border—and he’ll even make Mexico pay for it. Trump will negotiate an even tougher nuclear deal with Iran, he says. He’ll make China play fair on international trade. He’ll stand up to America’s enemies. Trump isn’t like all these politicians, he proclaims. He’s the real deal. He’s tough.
Until he meets a New Hampshire voter, that is. When faced with deeply disturbing rhetoric directed at a religious minority, the Donald suddenly couldn’t offer more than verbal handwaving and vague promises. When confronted about his response by reporters, his campaign fell back on talking points and deflections.
Well, if Trump doesn’t disagree that Obama is a Muslim, he’s got plenty of company within his own base. According to a poll released just this week, as many as 54 percent of Trump supporters hold this incorrect belief.
From Sarah Pulliam Bailey:
Even though President Obama nods to his Christian faith regularly in both serious and light-hearted settings, a large number of Americans still believe he is a Muslim. According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 29 percent of Americans say they think that Obama is a Muslim, including 43 percent of Republicans.
Sixty-one percent of Democrats say Obama is a Protestant, compared with 28 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of independents. Also, according to CNN, 54 percent of those who support Donald Trump say they believe Obama is a Muslim.
Trump’s steadfast refusal to apologize for his controversial antics may be the most striking thing about him. A significant portion of the Republican base craves it, and a handful of pro-Trump conservative pundits does, too. None of them looms larger, perhaps, than Ann Coulter.
It makes sense. Trump has given political expression to a model of conservative discourse perfected by Coulter and subsequently emulated by Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and others: 1) Say something controversial or provocative and get a ton of attention in the process. 2) When the media and the Left inevitably demand an apology, adamantly refuse to provide one, driving your critics batty and burnishing your conservative credentials with the base. It’s been Coulter’s modus operandi for her entire, lucrative career, and now Trump has brought it to the campaign trail: A real conservative never says he’s sorry.
Ingraham: Any reaction to the pig pile on Trump today about this? (1:20)
Huckabee: Well, first of all, when you’re at the podium and you’re speaking and you’ve got crowd noise and speaker noise, and if you’re like me and have a little bit of a hearing loss because of all the years of playing rock music too loud and shooting shot guns, you sometimes don’t’ even hear it. And, when you do, then you make a split second decision as to whether you acknowledge it, ignore it, or move on. And, frankly, I think we ought to be judging the behavior of the interrupter, not the behavior of the person on the stage. If the person gets a legitimate question and they’re snarky and they’re mean, ok, that’s a fair point. But, this is much ado about nothing. The media, it’s such an interesting thing, they want to do everything they can to destroy Trump. But, on the other hand, between August 24 and September 4, CNN in prime time gave Trump 580 minutes. I have 6 seconds in a 2 week period mentioned on CNN. (1:22)
This game of being pressured to police other people’s speech is 1, anti-liberal, 2, tedious and exhausting, and 3, a one-way game, because it’s only the left that gets to decide what speech will be policed.
Ten days ago Trump and Carson mutually questioned each other’s religious bona fides. This was considered an issue, but not an Issue of Profound Concern. The media’s stance was: Here is what this guy said, here is what that guy said.
They did not hector people into “shutting down such hateful rhetoric” nor make a three day story about it. (It will be three days, or more; trust me.)
Could it be because the media is insanely jealous of their gender-ambiguous Layabout Prince?
President Barack Obama, never one to miss an opportunity for cheap moral preening, invited Mohamed to the White House. That’s an interesting gesture: Anybody want to hazard a guess as to what would happen if a young man showed up at the White House visitors’ center with a backpack in which was a homemade device full of circuit boards joined to a timing device? I do not frequent the White House, but I often am in the House and Senate office buildings in Washington, and my best guess is that if I’d tried to bring Mohamed’s clock into one of those places, there would have been guns drawn…
Ahmed Mohamed was mistreated by imbeciles, and he’ll be famous for it, for 15 Warholian minutes, and then again for a 30-second spot when he graduates in a few years and goes off to MIT or wherever. The fact is that he is not worse off because his name is Mohamed, but better off: Nobody would be paying attention otherwise, and he might very well be in jail. Being mistreated by imbeciles is the sine qua non of American public education today, but that fact is of political use only periodically, as in this case.
As Ben Smith and Byron Tau have noted in Politico, the notion that President Obama is ineligible to be president comes “from Democratic, not Republican politics.” In fact, FactCheck.org records, “this claim was first advanced by diehard Hillary Clinton supporters as her campaign for the party’s nomination faded” in 2008. So, too, for that matter, was the suspicion that Obama is a “secret Muslim.” In February of 2008, the Guardian reported that a Clinton staffer had been forced to resign “after forwarding an email suggesting Obama is a Muslim.” (Slate puts the number of fired employees at two.) There is no moral high ground for the Clinton team here; there is only hypocrisy.
Naturally, none of this excuses Donald Trump or his questioner. But it does tell us something important: That the employment of underhanded tactics is universal in politics. Time and again, we see progressive-leaning writers propose smugly that the American penchant for conspiracy theory is a phenomenon of the Right. The problem with that theory? It’s false. Writing last year in the Washington Post, Alfred Moore, Joseph Parent, and Joseph Uscinski set the record straight. “Are all Americans created equal when it comes to fearing collusion and conspiracies?” they asked. “Our recent research suggests that they are.” Put simply, one’s readiness to believe ridiculous conspiracies seems to be largely contingent upon who is said to be doing the conspiring. Thus it is that 37 percent of Democrats believe George Bush cheated in 2004, and 36 percent of Republicans believe Obama cheated in 2012. Thus it is that “Republicans [are] just as likely to believe that President Obama was born abroad as Democrats [are] likely to believe that 9/11 was an inside job.” Thus it is that when the conspiracies are stripped of their political components and put in abstract terms, the two sides converge. There is, the researchers found, “near symmetry between left and right.”
And then there’s Donald Trump.