Donald Trump, saying it is not his job to defend President Barack Obama, on Saturday defended his decision not to correct a man who said Obama is 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 on Twitter.
Trump added that if he had challenged the man, the media would have “accused me of interfering with that man’s right of free speech. A no win situation!”
Trump let slide slide comments made Thursday by a man wearing a Trump T-shirt who stood up at a town-hall meeting in Rochester, N.H., and said Muslims are a problem in this country and that “our current president is one.” As the man spoke about Obama, Trump interjected, “Right,” and the man went on to add, “You know, he’s not even an American.”
“This is the first time in my life that I have caused controversy by NOT saying something,” Trump wrote Saturday.
As a backlash against Trump built steam, the Republican presidential candidate canceled a speech to a major gathering of Republican leaders in South Carolina hours before he was to go onstage Friday night. He was scheduled to appear at an Iowa high school’s homecoming Saturday evening.
Trump is the front-runner among Republican candidates, leading a large field of candidates.
On Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that Trump’s views seem to be striking a chord with Republican voters.
“People who hold these offensive views are part of Mr. Trump’s base,” Earnest said, adding that Trump is far from the first Republican politician to “countenance these views” in an attempt to win support.
“In fact, that’s precisely what every Republican presidential candidate is doing when they decline to denounce Mr. Trump’s cynical strategy because they’re looking for those same votes,” Earnest said.