By Mario Trujillo - 09/19/15 09:13 AM EDT
GOP presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump campaign fires digital strategist days after hire GOP megadonor compares Trump to Biblical figures Trump calls for deploying NATO troops against ISIS MORE on Saturday said he's not "morally obligated to defend the president" against inaccurate claims from supporters.
Trump, who is leading in the polls for the Republican nomination, blasted out a series of tweets amid mounting criticism that he did not cut off an event attendee who questioned President Obama’s citizenship and religion.
Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don't think so!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2015
This is the first time in my life that I have caused controversy by NOT saying something.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2015
If the roles were reversed, Trump predicted Obama would not come to his defense.
If someone made a nasty or controversial statement about me to the president, do you really think he would come to my rescue? No chance!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2015
Trump received plenty of blowback Friday after he failed to shut down a supporter in New Hampshire who alleged Obama is a Muslim, as well as not an American. The questioner added that “we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question, when can we get rid of them?”
Many have said Trump should have followed the lead of 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Pentagon lifts transgender ban | Navy says Iran broke law by detaining sailors Gingrich, Christie top Trump’s VP list: report Woman pushes Trump to ban Muslims from TSA MORE, who cut off a woman who made similar comments about Obama during that election. But Trump has a history with the birther movement, fueling questions about Obama’s citizenship during the 2012 election, which eventually spurred Obama to release his long-form birth certificate to end any doubt that he was born in Hawaii in 1961.
The White House said the exchange wasn’t surprising given Trump’s history.
Even rival GOP candidate Jeb Bush came to Obama’s defense in a speech Friday night in Michigan.
"Barack ObamaBarack ObamaSocial Security to run dry three years sooner than expected: study Former CIA chief shuts down Trump's calls for waterboarding Clinton camp: Trump's fundraising 'bragging is total bunk' MORE is a talented man — and by the way he's an American, he's a Christian — his problem isn't the fact that he was born here or what his faith is," Bush said, according to reports. "His problem is that he's a progressive liberal who tears down anybody that disagrees with him."