Donald Trump has been accused of stirring up xenophobia and other such baser sentiments among potential voters in his push to become President of the United States. Even other Republicans who have dipped their toes into the “blame foreigners” pool that Trump splashes around in freely have abandoned him.
But he always has his fans. And Donald Trump fans are not afraid to be heard. Last week, a man at a town hall event in New Hampshire spoke up about an issue that concerns him: Muslims.
“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” the man said to Trump. “You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American.”
Trump interjected at this point:
“We need this question. This is the first question.”
“Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us,” the man continued. “That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”
Donald Trump’s response at this point would speak volumes about him as a person, certainly as a candidate, and about the kind of country he would hope to redesign into his ideal.
“We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things,” Trump said. “You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We’re going to be looking at that and many other things.”
What Donald Trump did not say is what John McCain said when he was running for President against Barack Obama in 2008.
Back in 2008, at a John McCain event, the then-candidate was booed by his Republican base when he defended Obama against charges that he was not what he seemed. A woman in the town hall crowd stood to ask a question of McCain. He handed her the microphone.
“I can’t trust Obama,” the woman began. “I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh — he’s an Arab. He’s not —”
At this point, John McCain stopped her right there. He took the microphone back from her and said:
“No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”
John McCain did not incite his base to xenophobic furor about his dark-skinned opponent. His running mate sure tried the division card, but McCain was made of better stuff. Donald Trump is not.
Hillary Clinton tweeted out a response to Trump’s actions later that day.
“Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out. -H,” she tweeted shortly after.
Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 18, 2015
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz also slammed Trump for riding the Islamaphobia and Birther propaganda to poll ratings.
“GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s racism knows no bounds. This is certainly horrendous, but unfortunately unsurprising given what we have seen already. The vile rhetoric coming from the GOP candidates is appalling,” Schultz said in a statement. “[Republicans] should be ashamed, and all Republican presidential candidates must denounce Trump’s comments immediately or will be tacitly agreeing with him.”