CNN anchor Jake Tapper confronted Donald Trump on Sunday for placating a supporterwho spouted anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.
At a Thursday town-hall event, a man presented multiple inflammatory claims to Trump, including the widely debunked allegation that President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
But Tapper bluntly pressed Trump on the man’s broader declaration that Muslims were a “problem.”
“You’re not responsible for what he says, but this is raw, unvarnished, ignorant bigotry,” Tapper said. “You are a leader. You are the front-runner in the Republican race. Do you not have a responsibility to call out this hatred?”
Trump suggested that the CNN “State of the Union” host was simply trying to be “politically correct” and defended the idea that some Muslims were a serious problem.
“I have friends that are Muslims,” the real-estate mogul said. “They’re great people, amazing people. And most Muslims — like most everything — I mean, these are fabulous people. But we certainly do have a problem.”
“What’s the problem?” Tapper asked.
“Well, you have radicals that are doing things,” Trump said. “I mean, it wasn’t people from Sweden that blew up the World Trade Center, Jake.”
Tapper tried one more time, noting that the Trump supporter had directly told the candidate: “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims.” There wasn’t any reference to extremism, Tapper said.
“What if he had said, ‘We have a problem in this world — it’s called blacks?'” he asked Trump. “Would you have said something then?”
Trump insisted that he never acknowledged his supporter’s allegations about Muslims and that it wasn’t a big deal at the event.
“I actually didn’t respond,” he said. “It was a question that was asked in front of a totally packed house. Nobody thought much of it until the following couple of hours, when it came became a pretty big subject. But, no, we do have a problem with radical Muslims.”
The discussion then moved onto other subjects.