The latest controversy plaguing the Republican side of the 2016 presidential race is the various candidates’ responses to the issue of Islam in America.
Ben Carson may have ruined his entire campaign by claiming that he wouldn’t support a Muslim president. Donald Trump is receiving backlash for refusing to correct a town hall attendee who referred to President Barack Obama as a Muslim.
Both have slipped in the polls while Carly Fiorina, supposedly thanks to her performance in the most recent debate, has risen. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Fiorina, of course, referred to Islamic civilization as the “greatest in the world” just weeks after 9/11, defending the faith of HP’s many Muslim employees.
Trump is defending himself in this current controversy by claiming that he didn’t even say anything wrong. “For the first time in my life, I got in trouble by not saying anything — I didn’t say anything,” Trump said, according to the Hill.
In his typical Trump fashion, he’s also assured voters that he doesn’t really hate the religion. “I love the Muslims. I think they’re great people,” he said, according to CNN. He also said he’d consider putting a Muslim in his cabinet.
As has been the case with most of the outlandish things Trump says, other candidates have been using his statements as a way to explain their own outlook on the same issues. Hillary Clinton, for example, was quick to voice her disapproval. “I was appalled,” Clinton said of Trump’s lack of response, according to CNN. “Not only was it out of bounds, it was untrue. He should have from the beginning corrected that kind of rhetoric, that level of hatefulness.”
Clinton has responded to almost every controversial statement Trump has made, attempting to portray herself as the rational, Democratic counterpart to his campaign. She is, of course, anticipating a national faceoff against him should both sustain their leads over their respective parties.
Clinton also explained how she would have reacted in the same situation. “If that person would have been at my event, I would have called him out on it. And I would have said from the very beginning that has no place in a political discussion like the one we are trying to have here. And not only is it out of place and wrong, it is totally factually untrue,” Clinton said.
Members of the Republican Party have also responded to Trump’s statement — or lack of one. Even Sen. Ted Cruz of Florida distanced himself from the Islam issue, stating, “You know, the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office and I am constitutionalist. My view, listen. The president’s faith is between him and God.”
On the Democratic side, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont also voiced their disapproval.
Although every Trump controversy seems to boost his status in the polls, his steam may be running out. There was no true controversy in his town hall meeting, but critics are associating the incident with Carson’s statement.
If any positive can come from this whole situation, it’s the fact that other candidates are distancing themselves from the hate speech being perpetuated by Trump, Carson and the Islamophobic individuals in this country. Extremism is certainly an issue, but it’s time we move past our history of hatred.