"Donald Trump’s over-reaction is just as dangerous as Obama’s under-reaction": Republicans barely condemn Trump's Muslim ban

Trump may have crossed the line with his call for a ban on Muslims and now his GOP rivals are backed into a corner

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published December 8, 2015 2:11PM (EST)

  (Reuters/AP/Brian Snyder/Jim Cole/Rebecca Cook)
(Reuters/AP/Brian Snyder/Jim Cole/Rebecca Cook)

This morning, Donald Trump clarified his controversial and unconstitutional proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, making the morning news rounds to explain that his plan would not apply to current Muslim American citizens but would not be as temporary as first indicated.

While some of Trump's low-polling Republican presidential rivals rushed to call out Trump's "outrageous" latest castigation of a whole sect of people last night, many of his peers -- who have nearly all pledged to support Trump should he become the eventual nominee -- have either feigned their disdain with mealy-mouthed condemnations or attempted to one-up their competitor with equally as outrageous proposals of their own. A point Bill Kristol, no less, made on Twitter:

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul refused to directly criticize Trump, releasing a statement Monday evening touting his own proposal to ban all immigrants from the Middle East -- irrespective of religion.

“Senator Rand Paul has led on the issue of border security, proposing real solutions. That’s why earlier this month he introduced legislation to block visitors and immigrants from nations with known radical elements while a new system is developed to screen properly,” campaign spokesman Sergio Gor wrote, according to the Guardian.

Ben Carson also greeted Trump's anti-Muslim proposal with a proposal of his own, suggesting that every person that enters the U.S. should be monitored, again, irrespective of religion.

"Everyone visiting our country should register and be monitored during their stay as is done in many countries," Carson spokesman Doug Watts said on Monday. "We do not and would not advocate being selective on one’s religion."

Unsurprisingly, Trump's biggest cheerleader, Ann Coulter, was most impressed with his latest xenophobic gimmick. Editor of conservative website Redstate, Eric Erickson, lauded Trump's "brilliant" proposal, after earlier commemorating the bombing of Pearl Harbor by waxing nostalgic about his parents' annual racist exercise of avoiding "Asian food."

"Donald Trump not only got himself to the right of all the other candidates, but also got every single one of them save for Ted Cruz to align themselves with Barack Obama," Erickson wrote on his website.

Speaking of Cruz's response, Erickson isn't exactly right, the Texas senator who found himself at the top of an Iowa poll for the first time on Monday, is not the only candidate to be lacking in his condemnation of Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric, but he surely was the most measured.

"That is not my policy," Cruz said of Trump's ban on Muslims while campaigning in South Carolina. “Listen, I don’t believe most Americans are using language against Muslim Americans. We are using language against radical Islamic terrorists, but I am going to focus on language I use,” Cruz said.

“It is time for Ted Cruz to quit hiding in the weeds and speak out against Donald Trump’s xenophobia and racial bigotry,” South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham challenged, calling on all his rivals to speak out forcefully against Trump:

But the most in the way of condemnation that Carly Fiorina could muster when asked about Trump's proposal on the campaign trail was to compare Trump to President Obama.

“Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s overreaction is as dangerous as Obama’s under-reaction,” Fiorina said.

And when the New Hampshire GOP chair dared to condemn Trump's proposal, along with the GOP chairs in Iowa and South Carolina, Republican state lawmakers immediately called for her resignation.

Trump's ban on Muslims “is no different than the situation during World War II, when we put the Japanese in camps," New Hampshire Representative Al Baldasaro argued, calling for the state Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Horn's resignation.

"There are some issues that transcend politics. While my position (as party chairwoman) is certainly political, I am an American first. There should never be a day in the United States of America when people are excluded based solely on their race or religion. It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American,” Horn said of Trump on Monday.

So far, the Republican National Committee has not commented on Trump's headline grabbing proposal and when newly-minted Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was asked about his thoughts on Trump's proposal on Monday, a spokesperson for the Speaker simply referred back to Ryan's past disavowal of "religious tests."

Trump will no longer be attending a New York RNC fundraiser on Wednesday, although RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told CNN that the decision was made well before Trump's latest comments.

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By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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