NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Donald Trump on Tuesday stood by his call to block all Muslims from entering the United States, even as the idea was widely condemned by rival Republican presidential candidates, party leaders and others as un-American.
“I don’t care about them,” Trump told CNN when asked about denunciation of the idea by GOP leaders. “I’m doing what’s right.”
Trump defended his plan for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” by comparing it to what President Franklin Roosevelt did during World War II to Germans, Italians and Japanese.
“They stripped them of their naturalization proceedings. They went through a whole list of things — they couldn’t go five miles from their homes, they weren’t allowed to use radios, flashlights,” Trump said ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Take a look at what FDR did many years ago, and he’s one of the most highly respected presidents.
“I am not proposing (internment camps),” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” referring to how Japanese on the West Coast were treated. “You have to look at his presidential proclamations. It was tough stuff.”
For most of the primary campaign, the Republican candidates have aggressively battled each other to prove they have the best plan for dealing with the nation’s security concerns, calling for surveillance in Muslim communities and putting undercover agents in mosques, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported. They’ve been testing the boundaries between what are legitimate fears and what is religious discrimination. Trump’s rivals, however, say he’s finally crossed the line.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told his Republican colleagues that Trump’s comments on Muslims is “not who we are” as a party or American people.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is leading Trump in Iowa in a new Monmouth University poll, told CNN, “That is not my policy.” He said the focus should be on radical Islamic terrorism.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said via Twitter: “Donald Trump is unhinged. His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious.” Bush also released an ad saying Trump would be an “impulsive” and “reckless” president.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich hopes to raise money off the controversy, sending out a campaign fundraising email saying Trump’s “rhetoric is outrageous and it’s divisive.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Trump’s proposal “ridiculous” on Twitter.
Ben Carson also issued a statement saying, “Everyone visiting our country should register and be monitored during their stay as is done in many countries. I do not and would not advocate being selective on one’s religion.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted: “I disagree with Donald Trump’s latest proposal. His habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.”
Trump’s proposal also drew swift rebukes from Democratic presidential candidates.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote, “We are weak when we allow racism and xenophobia to divide us.”
And in an interview on MSNBC, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said: “Who is he going to start with? Is he going to start with Muslim-Americans in our armed forces? They can’t come home? Who is he talking about? Is he talking about engineers that do business abroad? It’s just outrageous behavior. It is the sort of demagoguery that oftentimes precedes fascism.”
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been in a war of words with Trump, called the proposal “a dangerous, dangerous statement.”
“How could the frontrunner for a major party nomination literally be suggesting a religious test on who gets to come into the country?” de Blasio said in a statement. “That’s why he must be confronted.”
The front page of the Philadelphia Daily News pictured Trump holding his right hand out as if in a Nazi salute with the headline “The New Furor.” In morning TV interviews Tuesday on ABC and CNN, Trump was asked about being compared to Hitler.
The candidate didn’t back down, saying that banning all Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on” is warranted after attacks by Muslim extremists in Paris and last week’s shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14.
“We are now at war,” Trump said, adding: “We have a president who doesn’t want to say that.”
Trump’s proposed ban would apply to immigrants and visitors alike, a sweeping prohibition affecting all adherents of a religion practiced by more than a billion people worldwide.
In an interview on Fox News, Trump said Muslim members of the U.S. armed forces would “come home” and that his plan would “not apply to people living in the country.”
Trump announced his plan to cheers and applause at a Monday evening rally in South Carolina.
“We have no idea whether they love us or hate us or want to bomb us,” he told the crowd.
At the rally, he warned that without drastic action, “it’s going to get worse and worse; you’re going to have more World Trade Centers.”
Many of Trump’s supporters were not phased by the controversial remarks.
“I just wanted to hear what he had to say, and I think we need somebody strong like that,” one voter said.
In a rare Oval Office address Sunday night, President Barack Obama implored Americans to not turn against Muslims at home, saying the Islamic State was driven by a desire to spark a war between the West and Islam.
He also called on the American Muslim community to serve as a partner in the fight against radical Islam.
Trump said his policy should last until U.S. officials “figure out what’s going on.”
Pollsters say the comments probably won’t stop his supporters.
“It’s all about attitude,” said Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff. “It’s not about issues. It’s not about detailed policy statements. It taps into the frustration voters have that things are broken, and he’s the outsider’s outsider.”
Poll data indicate Trump’s supporters are a segment of the GOP that is basically blue collar, low income and without college degrees. For them, Trump is the new “Teflon Don,” defying all laws of political gravity.
Establishment Republicans told Kramer they would like to get rid of Trump. The trouble is they don’t know how. And it’s dangerous to antagonize him because, although Trump took a pledge not to run as an independent, he could still split off and take his supporters with him, Kramer reported.
The Rev. Chloe Breyer of the Interfaith Center of New York said no one should cut Trump any slack for his remarks.
“I think the prejudice and the Islamophobia that he has shown consistently over the last few months has made him completely ill-equipped for any kind of public office,” she told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.
Linda Sarsour with the Arab American Association of New York said she is looking beyond one man and his words.
“There are people who are actually standing behind him (Trump), and then the other GOP candidates are saying that if he becomes the nominee, that they’re actually willing to stand behind him and support him, and that’s really scary,” Sarsour said.
NYU Law Professor Nancy Morawetz told CBS News that while a religious test raises legal and logistical questions, “it’s a really, really dangerous and scary situation to have a major political figure spouting this kind of hate.”
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said he’s shocked by Trump’s proposal and has called a few friends.
“I spoke to someone who served in the United States Navy; he’s Muslim,” Potasnik told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. ” I spoke to someone who is a chaplain with NYPD; he’s Muslim. I spoke to someone from the Turkish community, who is Muslim. They are highly insulted. They pledge allegiance to the same America we pledge allegiance to.
“We’re not going to allow people to put up a wall separating people according to their religious faith,” Potasnik added. “If we do that, then let’s remove the Statue of Liberty. Then it will mean nothing.”
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