The White House said Donald Trump’s ban-Muslims call disqualified him for the presidency. The Pentagon said it “bolsters ISIL narrative”. The Republicans slammed it as un-American.
Even world leaders weighed in. British politicians usually stay out of US politics but Prime Minister David Cameron called it “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong”.
But Trump continued to defend his proposal, calling critics “foolish” for refusing to “acknowledge the tremendous danger and uncertainty of certain people coming into US”.
In a tweet, he spoke about a poll that said most of his supporters would back him if he ran for president as an independent, a possibility that Republicans dread.
The Republican frontrunner triggered a worldwide storm on Tuesday by calling for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering” the US till lawmakers can “figure out what’s going on”.
The call followed widespread outrage over the killing of 14 people in San Bernardino, California, by Syed Farook and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik, who came here on a fiancee visa.
While many want to tighten control over people coming into the US from conflict zones — the House of Representatives passed legislation on it on Tuesday — Trump crossed a line.
And condemnation was swift and bipartisan.
Every president swears to protect and defend the Constitution, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, adding what Trump said “disqualifies him from serving as president”.
The Pentagon said the remarks imperilled national security. “Anything that tries to bolster, if you will, the ISIL narrative that the United States is somehow at war with Islam is contrary to our values and contrary to our national security,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
“We are, as I mentioned, working with Muslim nations right now. We want to, in essence, take the fight to ISIL with the help of Muslims and others around the world. And anything that somehow challenges that, we think would be counterproductive to our national security.”
Trump’s own party colleagues, most of them at least, were equally alarmed. House speaker Paul Ryan said he doesn’t usually get into the presidential race. But this time he will.
“This is not conservatism,” Ryan said. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”
Trump’s presidential race rivals were less civil. Jeb Bush called him “unhinged”, Lindsey Graham described his comments as “bigoted” and others called him unsuited for office.
Wow, what a day. So many foolish people that refuse to acknowledge the tremendous danger and uncertainty of certain people coming into U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2015
But Trump seemed unfazed by this outpouring of criticism. He trashed them as “foolish”, and proceeded to tweet about his “BIG lead” in a new poll.
Great poll numbers just coming out of New Hampshire. BIG lead for "Trump" according to @CNN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2015
His tweet about his prospects as an independent was noted by commentators — Republicans are convinced an independent run by Trump will ensure Hillary Clinton’s victory.
The party obtained a pledge from him before he launched his campaign that he will support whoever wins the ticket. In other words, he will not launch an independent campaign.
Aware how worried the party is about such a turn of events, Trump posts them a reminder every now and then, calling them to be fair to him by giving him a level playing field.