Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has taken a great deal of criticism for his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. But despite much of that criticism coming from his own party, Trump refused to back down on his stance in an interview with Barbara Walters Tuesday.
During the interview, Walters asked Trump if he regretted the Muslim ban after the heated criticism, the New York City billionaire doubled-down on his controversial rhetoric.
“We have to do what's right,” Trump answered. “Somebody has to say the right thing. I have great respect and love, I have people who I have tremendous relationships with - they're Muslim. And Barbara, they agree with me 100 percent. It's short-term. Let our country get its act together. They knocked down the World Trade Center. They're trying to do it twice. Other things have happened. They have a lot of – they're a people that have tremendously bad intentions. We have to be tough. We have to be smart. And we have to be vigilant.”
Many critics, such as Jonathan Russell, Head of Policy for the anti-radicalization think tank Quilliam writing in an op-ed for CNN, have said Trump's words benefit ISIS by creating animosity towards American Muslims and further polarizing them. And since former FBI director Robert Mueller said that the biggest terror threat against American citizens is "self-radicalized, homegrown extremists in the United States," that threat is increased by flaming the anti-Muslim climate in the country.
To that criticism, Trump told Walters: “I'm the worst thing that ever happened to ISIS.”
Walters later asked Trump, who has demonized Mexicans, Muslims, and tweeted false and exaggerated statistics about black on white crime, if is he's “a bigot.”
Trump responded: “Not at all. I'm probably the least of anybody you've ever met.”
Asked to further explain, Trump answered: “I'm a person that has common sense. I'm smart. I'm a smart person. I know how to run things. This is about making America great again.”