Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump today defended himself from appearing to let an audience member slide with his claims about President Obama's religion and nationality earlier this week.
In a series of tweets, Trump dismissed the criticism of his response to the questioner, and then at the Faith and Freedom event in Iowa this evening he read those tweets, and then said he would have been criticized just as much had he challenged the man.
"This is the first time in my life that I have caused controversy by not saying something," he said. "I didn't say anything. By not saying something. Which was sort of amazing."
Trump has been criticized by fellow candidates and the White House regarding the incident, which happened during a town hall in New Hampshire Thursday. A man told Trump that Muslims were a "problem in this country" and that the president was not an American.
The businessman said that had he challenged the man, he would have been criticized just as much as he was for not saying anything.
"If I would have challenged the man, that itself the man that made the statement somewhat maybe negative to the president, to put it mildly the media would have accused me of interfering with that man's right of free speech," he said. "A no-win situation, do we agree?"
Later this evening, at homecoming at Urbandale High School in Urbandale, Iowa, which Trump was invited to attend, he gave a short speech and then took some questions from students.
When one asked him whether he would include a Muslim-American in his cabinet, he said, "Of course ... next question."
Trump had tweeted early today he wasn't "morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial 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 continued.
Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don't think so!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2015
This is the first time in my life that I have caused controversy by NOT saying something.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2015
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 J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2015
At the town hall event, the man went on to ask Trump: "But anyway, we have training camps brewing where they want to kill us. That's my question, when can we get rid of it?"
Trump, who is leading in Republican polls, did not address the comment about the president and said simply, "We're going to be looking into a lot of different things.”
Trump's campaign said after the event he had difficulty understanding the question and was referring to the mention of training camps.