While fending off attacks from critics denouncing his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said in a Dec. 8 interview that he stands by the idea.
During the interview, ABC News’ Barbara Walters asked Trump if he regretted proposing the ban.
“Not at all,” he answered. “We have to do the right thing. Somebody in this country has to say what's right.”
Trump’s campaign announced the proposal in a Dec. 7 news release in the wake of news that the shooters in the San Bernardino, California, mass shooting on Dec. 2 had been radicalized Muslims. It's still unclear whether they were influenced by ISIS.
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“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on,” the release read, according to CNN.
The proposal drew sharp criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, The New York Times reports.
“Tell Donald Trump: Hate is not an American value," Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton wrote in a tweet.
The super political action committee backing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is also vying for the GOP presidential nod, broadcasted its first ad attacking Trump, saying that the idea disqualified him from serving as president.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest echoed those sentiments: “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.”
Some conservative commentators voiced their support.
“Anyone who thinks @realDonaldTrump comments will hurt him don’t know the temperature of the American ppl," conservative radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted.
In his interview with Walters, Trump said his plan was only “short term.”
"Let our country get its act together,” he said. “It could be very quickly if our country could get its act together."
During the interview, Trump denied that he is a bigot and told Walters he has “tremendous relationships” with Muslims, many of whom, he said, support his ideas.
“They (terrorists) knocked down the World Trade Center — they tried doing it twice,” he said. “Other things have happened. ... There are people that have tremendously bad intentions. We have to be tough, we have to be smart and we have to be vigilant.”
“I'm a person who has common sense,” he added. “I'm a smart person. I know how to run things. I know how to make America great again. This is about making America great.”