The controversial presidential campaign of businessman Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2016 continues to draw criticism from different groups due to Trump’s penchant for making what many perceive to be racist or offensive comments.
Currently the frontrunner in the Republican field, Trump made comments on December 7 that, if elected as president next November, he would move to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Trump indicated that the ban would only be temporary, but was necessary due to growing fears about domestic terrorism committed by refugees who had been recruited by ISIS.
Most of his fellow Republicans condemned or at least criticized the remarks as being against what the United States stands for and simply unconstitutional. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said that Trump was “unhinged,” while Lindsey Graham stated that Trump was putting the lives of Americans living overseas in danger with such remarks.
The lone candidate who refused to criticize Trump’s remarks was Texas senator Ted Cruz, saying that he commended him for focusing on policing the borders of the United States.
When asked the next day during a daily press briefing at the White House about Trump’s remarks, President Obama’s press secretary Josh Earnest indicated that such remarks should disqualify Trump from the presidency. The basis for that belief is that the oath of office each president must take requires them to uphold the Constitution, which officially guarantees Freedom of Religion in the First Amendment.
Earnest also pointed out a number of comments in 2015 by prominent Republicans, showing that their current opposition to both Trump and his comments are in contrast to what they previously said. He also described Trump as a “carnival barker.”
For example, Earnest noted that the leadership in the House of Representatives had elected Steve Scalise as House Majority Whip someone who had indicated to a reporter that he was David Duke without the baggage. Duke was the former member of the Ku Klux Klan who once ran for governor of Louisiana.
Following up on that, it was then pointed out by Earnest that the Senate Republican campaign committee’s executive director offered advice in a leaked memo on how to use Trump’s continuing popularity with Republican voters to aid their own campaigns.
Finally, Earnest then focused on comments made earlier that day by Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who said that if Trump ended up as the party’s presidential nominee, he would support him during the general election. Just prior to those comments, Ryan had also taken time to criticize the comments by Trump about banning Muslims.
That proposed support by Ryan was in conjunction with a pledge that each of the Republican nominees had signed during the summer that they would support whoever ends up being the nominee for president. After first refusing to do so when first asked during the August 6 Republican debate in Cleveland, Trump eventually signed the pledge.
The reason for Republicans taking such a step stems from their fear that someone who misses out on the official nomination will simply run as a third party candidate. The fear in that case is that with two Republicans running, they’ll simply split the vote, allowing the Democratic nominee to win the presidency.
On December 9, Trump appeared in separate television interviews on CNN and Fox News Channel and indicated that if he believes he’s being treated unfairly by the Republican establishment, he’ll renounce his pledge. However, he gave no indication as to how such a determination would be made relating to that alleged treatment.