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Donald Trump Speaks Out on Plan to Ban Muslims

Donald Trump’s pledges

Donald J. Trump on Tuesday stood by his call to block all Muslims from entering the United States…

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Repudiated across much of the political spectrum but defended on conservative talk radio, Donald J. Trump on Tuesday stood by his call to block all Muslims from entering the United States. He cast it as a temporary move in response to terrorism and invoked President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s authorization of the detention of Japanese, German and Italian immigrants during World War II as precedent.

Senator Ted Cruz, who is vying for much the same base of support that Mr. Trump now enjoys, disavowed his proposal but pointedly declined to join in the scolding. “I commend Donald Trump for standing up and focusing America’s attention on the need to secure our borders,” Mr. Cruz said at the Capitol.

And former Senator Rick Santorum, the winner of the 2012 Iowa caucus, seemed to embrace Mr. Trump’s impulse but differed on the details. “I’ve proposed actual concrete things and immigration law that would have — not the effect of banning all Muslims, but a lot of them because we need to get rid of the visa lottery system, which is the way in which a lot of radicals have come into this country,” he said on Sirius XM’s “Breitbart News Daily.”

Mr. Trump, who has set the tone in a Republican presidential race he has led for months, defended and expanded upon his proposal in a string of television interviews Tuesday morning.

In a sometimes tense exchange with Joe Scarborough on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe,” he insisted that fears of terrorism had made policing difficult in places like London and in Paris, the site of the Islamic State attacks on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people.

“This is a president highly respected by all; he did the same thing,” Mr. Trump said. The nation was at war in the 1940s, he said, and it is now “at war with radical Islam.”

On ABC, Mr. Trump clarified that his proposal would not apply to United States citizens. “If a person is a Muslim, goes overseas and comes back, they can come back,” he said. “They’re a citizen. That’s different. But we have to figure things out.”

There was sweeping criticism of Mr. Trump’s remarks from European officials and from Democrats.

“The fact is that what Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president, and for Republican candidates for president to stand by their pledge to support Mr. Trump, that in and of itself is disqualifying,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters at his daily briefing.

Mr. Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, went further. “Trump is saying out loud what other Republicans merely suggest,” he said on the Senate floor.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Bloomberg News on Tuesday evening that because of Mr. Trump’s “dangerous” comments, if he wins the nomination Mrs. Clinton will “win in a walk.”

Mr. Trump’s proposal on Monday came hours after a poll was released showing that Mr. Cruz had overtaken him for the lead in Iowa, and a day after President Obama gave a rare Oval Office address to discuss fears of terrorism after the attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, Calif. — a speech Republicans criticized as insufficiently reassuring.

“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Mr. Trump wrote in a statement.

It was the latest controversy from a candidate whose campaign has been marked by harsh comments about some immigrant groups since he entered the race in June. Despite repeated and often hopeful predictions from his rivals and political analysts that his supporters would abandon him, such remarks have appeared to cleave Mr. Trump’s backers closer to him.

“We have to get a hand around a very serious problem,” Mr. Trump said on MSNBC. “And it’s getting worse. And you will have more World Trade Centers and you will have more, bigger than the World Trade Center, if we don’t toughen up, smarten up, and use our heads.”

Reaction from Republicans was mixed.

Many Republican leaders have struggled with how to deal with Mr. Trump, who has tapped into a deep well of anger and frustration among voters who polls show have lost trust in their elected officials and in many institutions. But they are also concerned about the impact that Mr. Trump will have on the party’s chances of recapturing the White House.

Some spoke out, saying his ideas needed to be rejected.

“This is not conservatism,” said Mr. Ryan, the House speaker and the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2012. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

“Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims, the vast, vast, vast majority of whom are people who believe in pluralism, freedom, democracy, individual rights,” Mr. Ryan said.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, said in a radio interview late Monday that “this whole notion that somehow we need to say ‘no more Muslims’ and just ban a whole religion goes against everything we stand for and believe in.” And the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, noted that the idea would bar American allies like King Abdullah of Jordan from visiting the country, calling it “completely and totally unworkable.”

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