Donald Trump has many talents. But perhaps his greatest skill, which has become increasingly clear in recent hours, is the unique ability to unite the deeply divided left and right wings of the American political landscape together in their outrage toward him.
Yesterday afternoon, the reality television star and current Republican presidential frontrunner, issued a statement calling for a "total and complete shutdown" of any Muslims coming to the US on the basis of the terrorist threat they pose. This is by no means the first time Trump has said something outlandish, especially about immigrants, but this statement may have provoked the most incensed response yet, in particular from the White House.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said today that Trump's statement was offensive, toxic, and went as far as to argue that it disqualified Trump from becoming president. Earnest also said that the other Republican candidates — all of whom have pledged to support Trump if he becomes the party's nominee — should condemn Trump "right now."
Nearly every other Republican candidate also criticized Trump and were quick to distance themselves from him yesterday. Jeb Bush called him "unhinged," Marco Rubio said Trump's statement was "offensive and outlandish," and Chris Christie said Trump has no idea what he's talking about.
The Democratic candidates were equally outraged. Hillary Clinton said Trump's statement was "reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive." Martin O'Malley called him a fascist.
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Some politicians went a step further to actually put a stop to Trump. The mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida said he would ban Trump from his city, followed by Philadelphia's mayor saying he'd like to keep Trump out as well.
In his statement, Trump cited a highly dubious poll from an organization known for peddling conspiracy theories to back up his argument that a large portion of American Muslims held jihadi or extremist views.
"Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses," Trump's statement, "our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life."
Not only is Trump's plan to bar all of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims irrational, said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson today, it's also dangerous to national security.
Trump's comments are "probably illegal, unconstitutional, and contrary to international law, un-American, and will actually hurt our efforts at homeland security," argued Johnson on MSNBC.
The chairwoman of New Hampshire's Republican party, Jennifer Horn, also sharply condemned Trump's statement as "unconstitutional," "un-Republican and "un-American." In response, a group of state representatives quickly called for her resignation.
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Trump, for his part, not only seemed untroubled by the response but downright pleased by the media attention it got him. He made the rounds to four network talk shows this morning defending his statement.
Trump calls for banning Muslims, then gets to call into four networks: — Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone)December 8, 2015
Speaking to cheering crowds at a rally in South Carolina last night, Trump acknowledged that some squeamish people might find it "politically incorrect."
"But," he added, "I don't care."
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