Audience members raise their hands during a question and answer session with Donald Trump at a town hall event Thursday in Rochester, New Hampshire. (Photo: Robert F. Bukaty/AP)
Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to strike back at everyone criticizing him for not correcting a man who said President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim.
“Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don’t think so!” Trump wrote.
The Republican presidential candidate, who routinely attracts press with his biting put-downs, said this is the first time he caused controversy by not saying something.
Trump added that there is no way Obama would have corrected a person who made misguided statement about him.
“If someone made a nasty or controversial statement about me to the president, do you really think he would come to my rescue? No chance!” he said.
The incident that kicked off the latest media frenzy occurred at the beginning of the brash billionaire’s town hall event Thursday in Rochester, N.H.
For the event’s first question, Trump called on an audience member wearing a Trump T-shirt who said he thinks the U.S. needs to “get rid” of Muslims.
“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one. We know he’s not even an American. Birth certificate, man!” the man said, alluding to the “birther” movement. “We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”
Donald Trump drew criticism for not defending the president at his New Hampshire town hall meeting Thursday, but he strongly defended himself on social media Saturday. (Photo: Robert F. Bukaty/AP)
While the unidentified man was speaking, Trump chuckled to other supporters, and asked, “We need this question?”
In response to the man’s query, he said that he would “look into that.”
Many people, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, were offended that Trump did not explain to the man that Obama is in fact a Christian from Hawaii rather than a Muslim from outside the country.
“Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out,” she wrote.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest asked Friday morning if anyone was truly caught off guard that this sort of behavior reared its head at a Trump event.
“Is anybody really surprised this happened at a Donald Trump rally?” Earnest asked. “I don’t think anybody who has been paying attention to Republican politics are really surprised.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington on Sept. 18, 2015. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said if someone said that at one of his town hall meetings, he would tell that person Obama is a Christian from the U.S.
“I’ll tell you what I would do, and I wouldn’t have permitted that if someone brought that up at a town hall meeting of mine,” Christie said on the “Today” show Friday.
“I would have said, ‘No, listen. Before we answer, let’s clear some things up for the rest of the audience.’ And I think you have an obligation as a leader to do that.”
But Trump insists that he was caught in a no-win situation, and would have been accused of violating the man’s First Amendment right to free speech had he done so.
“If I would have challenged the man, the media would have accused me of interfering with that man’s right of free speech. A no-win situation!”
Shortly after, Trump stopped defending himself and went back on the offensive, not surprisingly, against Obama. According to the real estate magnate, Obama has done a terrible job protecting the religious freedoms of Christians the world over.
“Christians need support in our country (and around the world),” he said on Twitter, “their religious liberty is at stake! Obama has been horrible, I will be great.”