Presidential races

Carson ignites firestorm with Muslim remarks

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Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is under attack from Republicans and Democrats alike over his controversial remarks that a Muslim should not be president of the United States.

The White House ripped Carson, with press secretary Josh Earnest saying the comments are “entirely inconsistent with the Constitution.”

{mosads}“Ultimately, there will be consequences and those views will be taken into account by voters, not only in the primary, but also the general election,” Earnest told reporters. 

Perhaps more notably, Carson also came under fire from conservatives, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has generally refrained from criticizing other GOP presidential candidates.

“You know, the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office, and I am constitutionalist,” he said during a campaign stop in Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register.

Cruz cited Article VI of the Constitution, which states there should be “no religious test” for a candidate seeking public office.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), another GOP presidential candidate, echoed Cruz in citing Article VI to criticize Carson.

A third GOP candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), speaking Sunday, said the remarks are evidence that Carson is “not ready to be commander in chief.”

Carson first made the comments in a “Meet the Press” interview with Chuck Todd on Sunday morning, and later that day doubled-down in an interview with The Hill, saying that whoever takes the White House should be “sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not a Quran.”

“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” the former neurosurgeon said. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

Carson has emerged as a real contender for the GOP presidential nomination.

The soft-spoken retired neurosurgeon is in third place in a CNN poll released Sunday, trailing only Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina.

In the RealClearPolitics average of polls, he is in second place nationally and in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Carson’s strength is delivering him more media criticism and also could make him a bigger target for rivals, including Cruz and Paul, who trail him in the polls.

His comments about Muslims could also worry Republicans who hope their party can appeal to a wide cross section of voters in 2016. Carson’s remarks came after Trump failed to correct an audience member at a recent campaign event who incorrectly referred to President Obama as a Muslim.

Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who are battling for the Democratic presidential nomination, quickly seized on the remarks as a political gift.

Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement he was “very disappointed” by the remarks.

“It took us too long to overcome the prejudice against electing a Catholic or an African-American president,” Sanders said. “People should be elected to office based on their ideas, not their religion or the color of their skin.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the nation’s foremost Islamic advocacy groups, called on Carson to withdraw from the Republican presidential race.

Carson was defended by conservative activist Pamela Gellar, a fierce critic of Islam who helped organize a May contest in Texas where participants were to draw cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Islamic terrorists targeted that contest, and two gunmen who opened fire outside the event were shot dead by police.

“Ben Carson is right,” Gellar wrote for Breitbart. “Electing a Muslim president would be dangerous. We have seen the Islamic pattern of previously moderate Muslims becoming devout and then aiding and abetting jihad. How could we be sure a Muslim president would not do the same?”

“Meet the Press” anchor Chuck Todd is asking all of the candidates who come on his show the same question, provoking many conservatives to decry what they believe to be gotcha journalism meant to frame Republicans as intolerant on an issue that has no practical application to the 2016 race.

“This is a dumb game that the press is playing,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is also running for president, said in a statement. “It is an absurd hypothetical question.”

Still, some Republicans believe it’s a helpful exercise that draws attention to what they believe is a double-standard in how the media covers the GOP field on matters related to religious liberty.

“The left has its own version of this,” writes Hot Air’s Allapundit. “They openly mock devoutly Christian Republican candidates as theocrats in the making, but question Obama’s faith and they’ll slap you with insistences that Obama himself is a man as devout in his Christian belief as any wing-nut.”

Allahpundit continued to argue that the question highlights “one of the major but mostly unspoken themes of the campaign, namely, the white working class’s discomfort with multiculturalism and the pace of assimilation in America.”

It’s a theme he said that has been brought to the forefront by Trump, who kicked off his presidential campaign by warning of the dangers of illegal immigrants.

“Carson’s competing with him for some of the same votes, especially in Iowa, with this answer,” Allahpundit writes.

Trump is also responsible for bringing the issue of Islam to the forefront of the GOP race.

Last week, he came under fire for failing to correct a man at his campaign rally who declared that President Obama is a Muslim who wasn’t born in the U.S.

Trump, who has repeatedly questioned whether Obama was born in the country, said he has no responsibility to defend the president in the face of criticism and that he doubts Obama would defend him in such a case.


Tags Ben Carson Bernie Sanders Donald Trump GOP presidential primary Hillary Clinton Islam
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