After his words sparked a tremendous backlash, Donald Trump distanced himself from an earlier statement that he wants to track American Muslims in a database, although he did not rule it out.
"I didn't suggest a database-a reporter did," the Republican presidential candidate tweeted on Nov. 20. "We must defeat Islamic terrorism & have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America."
In a Nov. 19 interview with Yahoo, Trump was asked if he would implement a database and special IDs for Muslims.
“Certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy,” he answered, according to the Hill.
Trump promised to closely monitor all Muslims living in the U.S., saying that the country is "going to have to do things that we never did before."
“Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said.
The billionaire businessman added that he would not rule out warrantless searches in order to impose heavier surveillance on Muslims.
“Certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy,” he explained. “We’re going to have to do things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
When asked whether Muslims would be legally required to sign up for the database, he said, “They have to be. They have to be.”
While he did not outright reject his statements, he has distanced himself from them after his words sparked a huge backlash, including comparisons to Nazi Germany from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Republican rival Jeb Bush told CNBC:
You talk about internment, you talk about closing mosques, you talk about registering people. That's just wrong. I don't care about campaigns. It's not a question of toughness. It's to manipulate people's angst and their fears. That's not strength, that's weakness.
"My father was in World War II, and he fought to preserve America against what the Nazis were doing," said Rabbi Jack Moline, who runs a nonprofit interfaith alliance. "This is exactly why there is an America, to not be like that," he said.