Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to strike back at everyone criticizing him for not correcting a man who said President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim.
“Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don’t think so!” Trump wrote.
The Republican presidential candidate, who routinely attracts press with his biting put-downs, said this is the first time he caused controversy by not saying something.
Trump added that there is no way Obama would have corrected a person who made misguided statement about him.
“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!” he said.
The incident that kicked off the latest media frenzy occurred at the beginning of the brash billionaire’s town hall event Thursday in Rochester, N.H.
For the event’s first question, Trump called on an audience member wearing a Trump T-shirt who said he thinks the U.S. needs to “get rid” of Muslims.
“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one. We know he’s not even an American. Birth certificate, man!” the man said, alluding to the “birther” movement. “We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”
While the unidentified man was speaking, Trump chuckled to other supporters, and asked, “We need this question?”
In response to the man’s query, he said that he would “look into that.”
Many people, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, were offended that Trump did not explain to the man that Obama is in fact a Christian from Hawaii rather than a Muslim from outside the country.
“Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out,” she wrote.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest asked Friday morning if anyone was truly caught off guard that this sort of behavior reared its head at a Trump event.
“Is anybody really surprised this happened at a Donald Trump rally?” Earnest asked. “I don’t think anybody who has been paying attention to Republican politics are really surprised.”
Trump says that he would ‘absolutely’ consider appointing a Muslim-American to his Cabinet if he’s elected president in 2016.
Trump made the latest comment while responding to questions from students at an appearance ahead of Urbandale High School’s homecoming dance in Iowa on Saturday night.
One of the students told the Republican presidential front-runner that she considered Muslim-Americans to be an important segment of the country and asked him if he would include one on his ticket or in his Cabinet.
‘Oh, absolutely.No problem with that,’ Trump responded.
‘I love the Muslims. I think they’re great people.’
The real estate mogul also told the students to avoid alcohol and drugs as well as cigarettes.
He encouraged the teens to follow their hearts and to do something they love, even it means making less money than they desire.
‘You represent so much. You represent the future. You represent something very important,’ he said.
‘You have to go and follow what you love, you have to do it.
‘And you just have to follow your heart and you’ll be successful.
‘And it may not be pure monetary success, because I know people that are the wealthiest people in the world and they’re not happy.’
A social media campaign brought The Donald to the celebration at the high school and hundreds of students, parents and others came to hear him speak.
Prior to visiting the high school, Trump spoke to about 1,000 Christian conservatives at an Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition presidential forum and banquet.
The moment he hit the stage, Trump told the crowd ‘I brought my Bible!’
He then read some of the messages he tweeted earlier on Saturday, in an effort to defend himself.
‘This is the first time in my life that I have caused controversy by not saying something,’ Trump told the audience.
‘If I would’ve challenged the man, that’s the man they said was somewhat maybe negative to the president, the media would’ve accused me of interfering with that man’s right of free speech. A no-win situation.’
Later on in his speech, Trump said that he’s a Presbyterian and that ‘Christians need support in our country and around the world.’
He stated that his ‘first priority’ of his administration would be ‘to preserve and protect religious liberty.’
In addition to Trump, eight GOP presidential hopefuls were scheduled to appear at the fundraising banquet held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, including former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former New York Governor George Pataki, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Ted Cruz.