Donald Trump’s slash-and-burn attacks against Mexicans, women, immigrants and military heroes has expanded to Muslims, provoking another round of outrage on Friday over the leading Republican White House hopeful.
The business tycoon, who is seeking the conservative party’s presidential nomination, is under fire for failing to rebuff anti-Muslim comments at a campaign rally Thursday.
Trump indicated that he would look into getting rid of Muslims during a question and answer session at the event in Rochester, New Hampshire, according to broadcast footage and The Hill newspaper.
One man stood up and said: “We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims … We know our current president is one – you know he’s not even an American … That’s my question – when can we get rid of them?”
Trump went along with the comments, saying: “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. A lot of people are saying bad things are happening [and] we’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.”
A second Trump supporter agreed and applauded the first man, saying that “Obama is a Muslim born abroad.”
“Right,” Trump answered.
Fellow Republican candidate Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, zapped Trump on Friday for his conduct.
“If somebody at one of my town hall meetings said that, I would correct them and I would say, ‘The president’s a Christian and he was born in this country’ … I would have said, ‘No, listen. Before we answer, let’s clear something up for the rest of the audience’.”
The White House said Trump was being unpatriotic, and it was not surprising coming from Trump.
“That’s precisely what every Republican candidate is doing when they decline to denounce Mr Trump’s cynical strategy,” spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Trump has upended the 16-way race for the Republican nomination – the outsider with no political experience claims 30.5 per cent support among Republican voters, according to an average tallied by Realclearpolitics.com.
As Obama prepared to run for re-election in 2012, Trump insisted that Obama was foreign born and therefore unqualified for the White House. Obama provided his birth certificate, showing he was born in the US state of Hawaii.
Obama’s late father was Kenyan, and he carries the middle name Hussein, which has given rise to rumours that he is Muslim. Forty-three per cent of Republicans believe he is Muslim, according to a CNN poll.
Obama has publicly said he is a Christian. He worshipped at a United Church of Christ congregation for decades when he lived in Chicago.