Trump On His Plan To Ban Muslims: 'Not Politically Correct, But I Don't Care' The current leader for the GOP presidential nomination received a standing ovation from a crowd in South Carolina after he read aloud his statement to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

Trump On His Plan To Ban Muslims: 'Not Politically Correct, But I Don't Care'

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, Donald Trump sure knows how to grab a headline. He did it yesterday. The Republican presidential candidate called for the United States to block all Muslims from entering this country. He drew ferocious criticism, including from rival candidates. Here's NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Trump's proposal came the day after President Obama's Sunday night televised address in which he urged Americans to reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. Trump's response?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I wrote something today that I think is very, very salient, very important and probably not politically correct. But I don't care. I don't care.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: The statement earned Trump a standing ovation at a rally on an aircraft carrier-turned-museum in South Carolina. He called for, quote, "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," end quote. Trump cited polls as evidence of hatred of Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. One was a survey from Pew Research, but he didn't include specifics. So it's not clear what the data there really show. Then he highlighted another poll.

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TRUMP: This was from the Center for Security Policy - very highly respected group of people who I know, actually. Twenty-five percent of those polls agreed violence against Americans is justified - as Muslims - 25 percent.

GONYEA: Trump calls it a highly respected group, but it is a hawkish, ultraconservative organization whose website features prominent warnings about the rise of sharia law in the U.S. and about the Muslim brotherhood infiltrating this country. Reaction from other GOP presidential hopefuls came quickly. Ben Carson said that everyone visiting the U.S. should be registered and monitored during their stay. Others outright rejected Trump's proposal. Ted Cruz spoke to NBC News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TED CRUZ: No, that is not my policy. I believe the focus should focus on radical Islamic terrorism.

GONYEA: Jeb Bush called Trump unhinged. Marco Rubio said it's outlandish and offensive. Chris Christie said Trump has no idea what he's talking about. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was on the Hugh Hewitt radio program.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW")

DICK CHENEY: Well, I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in.

GONYEA: Arab Americans civil rights groups reacted with alarm. Nihad Awad, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Trump sounded like the leader of a lynch mob.

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NIHAD AWAD: If such hatred and bigotry is not outright rejected by the GOP, then it will be part of its legacy for many years to come.

GONYEA: Republican Party chairs in South Carolina and New Hampshire condemn Trump's statement. But in New Hampshire, the co-chair of a group of veterans for Trump defended it, arguing that it's no different than in World War II, when Japanese-Americans were put in camps. As divisive as this policy is, Trump did something else last night that he always does at his rallies. He portrayed himself as the man to unify the country.

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TRUMP: Wouldn't it be good for all of us if we could get together and really make our country great again? Isn't that what we want to do?

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: Don Gonyea, NPR News.

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