— -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters today, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, currently at the center of a political firestorm over his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S., responded to critics' concerns that his rhetoric might help ISIS attract new recruits.
"I'm the worst thing that ever happened to ISIS. The people in my party fully understand that -- they're running against me. For the most part, they have no poll numbers. I'm leading by a lot. They get it. They're trying to get publicity for themselves," Trump said. "You know when I came out against illegal immigration, everybody said the same thing. Two weeks later, everybody was on my side, including the members of my own party."
Trump released a statement on Monday calling for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the U.S. until "our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
His supporters stood by the New York real estate mogul's comments as some Democrats and Republicans banded together to condemn his remarks. Earlier today, Trump compared the plan to that of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who limited the rights of Japanese, German and Italian nationals in the U.S. after the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack.
"It's short term," he said today of the proposed ban. "Let our country get its act together. ... It could be very quickly if our country could get its act together. ... We need toughness and smartness and we have to do it quickly."
When asked by Walters whether he regretted the proposal, Trump said: "Not at all. We have to do the right thing. Somebody in this country has to say what's right."
Trump went on to say that that Americans needed to "get tough" on terror.
"They [terrorists] knocked down the World Trade Center -- they tried doing it twice. Other things have happened. ... There are people that have tremendously bad intentions. We have to be tough, we have to be smart and we have to be vigilant," he said.
Trump said that he had "tremendous relationships" with people in the Muslim community and that they agreed with his sentiments 100 percent. He also denied that he is a bigot and said that he was thinking about the future of the U.S.
"I'm a person who has common sense. I'm a smart person. I know how to run things. I know how to make America great again. This is about making America great," he said.
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