Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has said it is “not his job” to defend President Barack Obama, after criticism from fellow Republicans for not correcting a supporter who said the POTUS was a Muslim.
Donald Trump tweeted there was “no chance” Barack Obama would defend him if he was similarly attacked.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has said Donald Trump should apologize.
Donald Trump canceled his appearance at a big Republican event on September 18.
The tycoon’s campaign team said he had pulled out of the Heritage Foundation because of a “significant business transaction” that needed his attention.
The criticism has been piling up since a man at Donald Trump’s rally in New Hampshire on September 17 prefaced a question by saying Barack Obama was a Muslim and “not even an American”.
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The supporter went on to say: “We have a problem in this country – it’s called Muslims.”
Donald Trump let it go unchallenged and within a few hours, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton said his failure to denounce “hateful rhetoric” was “disturbing and wrong”.
On September 18, his Republican competitors for the nomination waded into the row.
“He’s playing into this hateful narrative and he has to set it right,” said Lindsey Graham, who said he would never question the president’s faith or patriotism.
Leaders have an “obligation” to correct such statements, said another Republican presidential hopeful, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Donald Trump hit back in a series of tweets: “Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don’t think so!
“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!”
Donald Trump added that if he had challenged the man he would have been accused of interfering with his right to free speech.
Barack Obama, who has spoken openly about his Christian faith, was born to an American mother and Kenyan father in Hawaii.
In 2011, Donald Trump challenged Barack Obama to produce his birth certificate to disprove rumors that he was born in Kenya, which the president did.
Donald Trump has signed a GOP loyalty pledge agreeing not to run as an independent candidate if he loses the Republican nomination for the 2016 elections.
The presidential hopeful said on September 3: “I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stands.”
Donald Trump had earlier refused to rule it out.
The billionaire business mogul, who has been soaring in the polls, has come under pressure in recent weeks from the Republican Party to sign the pledge.
Donald Trump’s announcement will be seen as a victory for the party, who may have seen a split in its support and given the Democrats a boost had Trump pressed ahead as an independent candidate.
He said he had received nothing for signing the loyalty pledge, aside from the assurance that he would be treated fairly in the race.
Donald Trump was booed by audience members during the Republican presidential debate last month after he refused to rule out a third-party run. He was the only candidate not to commit to back the winner of the party’s primaries.
The Republican Party National Committee has since sought a loyalty pledge from each of its presidential hopefuls, in what is believed to be a first for the party.
“The best way forward… to win, is if I win the nomination and go direct against whoever (the Democrats) happen to put up. So for that reason, I have signed the pledge,” Donald Trump told reporters gathered at his campaign headquarters in New York’s Trump Tower.
“I see no circumstances under which I would tear up that pledge,” he added.
The Republican Party pledge asks presidential candidates to “endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is”.
Donald Trump has come under attack from his rivals in the race who have questioned his conservative credentials and liberal leanings in the past.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said on September 3 Donald Trump’s views on illegal immigration were “too pessimistic”, despite vowing to support his rival if he won the party race.
Some of the measures Donald Trump has outlined to combat illegal immigration include raising visa fees to pay for a wall along the Mexican border and ending the automatic right to citizenship for US-born children of families living illegally in America.
The latest poll by Monmouth University puts Donald Trump way ahead with support from 30% of Republicans, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson running a distant second with 18%.
The rest of the Republican pack is trailing far behind, with Jeb Bush currently tied with Texas senator Ted Cruz at 8%.
Mitt Romney has decided he will not run for president again.
The 67-year-old Republican was beaten by President Barack Obama in the US 2012 election.
Mitt Romney said he had decided it was “best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee”.
His statement comes weeks after a surprise announcement saying he was considering another bid.
The decision not to run frees up donors to support other Republican candidates.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul are among those who are considering a White House bid.
On the Democratic side, the presumed front-runner is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, although she has not made any announcement about campaigning.
Hillary Clinton previously ran for president in 2008 but lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.
Mitt Romney’s campaign raised more than $1 billion in the 2012 election, when he unsuccessfully challenged President Barack Obama.
He also lost the 2008 Republican nomination to Senator John McCain.
In a statement made during a phone call to donors, Mitt Romney said he was “convinced that we could win the nomination”, but added that “one of our next generation of Republican leaders… may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee”.
Mitt Romney said it was a tough decision for him and his wife, Ann, “but we believe it is for the best of the party and the nation”.
He reportedly discovered after floating a potential run three weeks ago that several of his key fundraisers had decided to support Jeb Bush, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Jeb Bush – the son of a former president and brother of another – announced in December he was “exploring” a run.
After Mitt Romney’s announcement Jeb Bush tweeted: “Mitt is a patriot and I join many in hoping his days of serving our nation and our party are not over.”
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