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White House: Obama Assuaging Terror Fears Better Than Trump

Law enforcement officers take photos of each other in front of Super Bowl 50 signs while providing security at Super Bowl City on Feb. 3, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The White House today asserted that one in four Americans supporting Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigration “is a testament to the character and courage of the American people that so many of them are resisting the effort by at least this one Republican politician to capitalize on their fears for his own political gain.”

A new NBC/WSJ poll found 57 percent of all adults disagreeing with Trump’s proposal and 25 percent in agreement. The remainder had no opinion.

Among likely GOP primary voters, 38 percent support such a ban and 39 percent oppose it.

Seventy-five percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents disagreed with Trump’s proposal. People who lived in rural areas were more likely to support a ban.

“It sounds like three out of four Americans agree with the position that was our — expressed by the president and other members of his administration about Mr. Trump’s offensive and divisive comments,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today, adding that he hadn’t seen the poll.

“I know that Mr. Trump’s new to politics but I don’t think that he’s going to — I don’t think any candidate, frankly, is gonna be satisfied with a poll that shows that only one in four Americans supports your position.”

Earnest added that’s “why the president and I have both expressed some confidence about how, in the end, the American people are going to stand behind and stand up for American values. And recognize that the values that are central to the founding of this country are worth fighting for.”

Pressed on the fact that a quarter of Americans support something that the Obama administration called morally reprehensible, the spokesman blamed “a pretty cynical attempt on the part of one Republican politician to capitalize on people’s fears and anxieties, and divide the American public solely for personal political gain.”

“And that’s — that’s offensive,” Earnest said.

Democrats are trying to link other Republicans in the field to Trump’s views, and the White House joined in on that guilt-by-association charge.

“The continued insistence on the part of Republican candidates for president and other leaders in the Republican Party that they would vote for somebody, potentially, for president of the United States who holds such offensive, divisive, views that run counter the very values of this country is in itself alarming and does not bode well for the future of the Republican Party,” Earnest argued.

“And it will until we see the courage — until we see some Republicans somewhere demonstrate the courage to stand up and say that they wouldn’t vote for him for president. And we haven’t heard that yet, not just from his fellow candidates, but from other leaders in the party.”

Earnest also insisted that President Obama has done a good job of trying to ease the fear and anxiety that may be driving voters to Trump, noting his Oval Office address on Sunday drew 46 million viewers “to discuss exactly this concern and fear and anxiety that is evident in many communities all across the country.”

“And I actually think in some ways it is a testament to the character and courage of the American people that so many of them are resisting the effort by at least this one Republican politician to capitalize on their fears for his own political gain. And again, that’s part of what makes this the greatest country in the world.”