Democrats are pouncing on hypothetical questions posed to GOP presidential hopefuls on whether they would feel comfortable with a Muslim in the White House.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said it’s “not so much what religion you are, it’s what you stand for” when asked to respond to Ben Carson’s comments that a Muslim shouldn’t be put in charge of the country.
Carson argued that Islam is not “consistent with the Constitution,” thus he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”
“I don’t think that we’re really anywhere near that — probably that happening because they’re a small minority in our — in our population,” Paul told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday. “But I think we — the hard part is, is while we are a very pluralistic society and we’re open to all religions, more free than any other country, the problem we have is that people have been attacking us have been all of one religion and it’s hard to separate that. And so I understand people saying, oh my goodness, you know, how could that happen?”
Pressed on if he would have a problem with Muslim commander in chief, Paul replied, “I try to see that as a separate thing, someone’s religion.”
“But I just think that it’s hard for us, we were attacked by people who were all Muslim. I think it’s really incumbent,” the senator continued. “And this is what I’ve been saying all along, civilized Islam needs to step up in a bigger way and say this doesn’t represent us. I know they do. But I don’t hear enough of it. I need to hear more of it. And I frankly think that Saudi Arabia’s often stoked the flames of radical Islam instead of trying to be helpful.”
Donald Trump told NBC over the weekend that having a Muslim president is “something that at some point could happen.”
“We will see. I mean, you know, it’s something that could happen. Would I be comfortable? I don’t know if we have to address it right now, but I think it is certainly something that could happen,” Trump said. “I mean some people have said it already happened frankly but, of course, you wouldn’t agree with that.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich told NBC “that’s such a hypothetical question.”
“The answer is at the end of the day, you have to go through the rigors and people will look things,” Kasich said. “But I — for me the most important thing about being president is you have leadership skills. You know what you’re doing and you can help fix this country and raise this country. Those are the qualifications that matter to me.”
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) blasted the “not one, not two, not three, but four GOP candidates for president” who “failed to clearly support the concept that a person’s religious beliefs should not disqualify him or her from being president.”
“It’s hard to understand what’s so difficult about supporting an American citizen’s right to run for president, but unsurprisingly, this left Republicans scratching their heads,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Of course a Muslim, or any other American citizen, can run for president, end of story. To think otherwise is not only harmful to our political process, but it elevates and validates discrimination in this country.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he was “very disappointed that Dr. Carson would suggest that a Muslim should not become president of the United States.”
“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.”
Can a Muslim be President of the United States of America? In a word: Yes. Now let’s move on. -H pic.twitter.com/AB99hiUPie
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 21, 2015