Donald Trump has called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States - before responding to a wave of critcism by telling a cheering crowd: “I. Don’t. Care.”
The candidate for the Republican presidential ticket released a statement calling for a "complete shutdown" of Muslim immigration to the US.
Speaking in the wake of the deadly California shootings in which 14 people were killed, the 69-year-old – long written off by political pundits but maintaining a bastion of support across America – said the ban should remain in place until authorities "can figure out" Muslim attitudes to the US.
Following a swathe of criticism, he re-read the controversial campaign statement on board Second World War carrier USS Yorktown, telling the crowd: “We need a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on.”
His statement went on to claim “there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.”
But on stage, Trump built on these remarks.
“They think they are going to change our religion," he said.
"I don’t think so. I don’t think so – not going to happen.”
He claimed that while he knew he was not being “politically correct”, he was leading the “noisy majority”.
“We used to call it the quiet majority, but people are fed up – they are fed up with incompetence, they are fed up with stupid leaders, they are fed up with stupid people," he said.
It would appear many of his supporters agree. Six out of eight supporters who spoke to CNN at the South Carolina rally last night concurred with Trump’s assessment.
Many commentators have noted the timing of his remarks coincides with the release of a Monmouth poll, placing rival Texan senator Ted Cruz ahead of Trump by five per cent.
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