Outcry Over Trump’s Muslim Comments Is Loud, but With an Uncertain Refrain

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 9.06.21 AMMAGGIE HABERMAN

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Good Tuesday morning. On the day Donald J. Trump lost the lead in one Iowa poll he maintained it in another  he said the United States should prohibit all Muslims from entering the United States, a plan that drew bipartisan condemnation but, when he read his proposal aloud at a rally in South Carolina, elicited cheers. 

“I don’t care.”

That was Mr. Trump’s response to the outcry from the mainstream news media, Democrats and Republican presidential candidates over his call to halt the influx of Muslims into the United States.

Mr. Trump was roundly criticized, as expected, by Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Martin O’Malley and other Democrats. The mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., a Democrat, tweeted that he was barring Mr. Trump from his city.
Republicans such as Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Jeb Bush and Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio condemned Mr. Trump. So did the chairs of the Republican parties of three key early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The former vice president, Dick Cheney, said Mr. Trump’s proposal “goes against everything we stand for,” though former President George W. Bush has not commented publicly. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida disavowed the proposal, but in brief; Mr. Cruz has suggested limiting the influx of refugees from countries with terrorist presences.

But if Mr. Trump didn’t care about the response, neither did his supporters, based on initial reports. Some of his supporters in South Carolina told CNN that they were fine with his proposal, since their concern is terrorism and what they see as the Obama administration’s paltry response.

There was a similar sentiment in New Hampshire, according to a report by WMUR, a local station that quoted Mr. Trump’s top allies in the state expressing their support. One compared his proposal to the Japanese internment camps during World War II.

It remains to be seen how dominant an issue this proposal will be at next week’s Republican debate, hosted by CNN in Las Vegas. It is also unclear whether Mr. Cruz, who surged ahead of Mr. Trump in one poll released on Monday morning, has had his momentum halted by his rival’s latest controversy.