In an interview on March 9, Donald Trump said he believes that “Islam hates us” when pressed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
COOPER: Do you think Islam is at war with the west?
TRUMP: I think Islam hates us. There is something—there is something there that is a tremendous hatred there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.
COOPER: In Islam itself?
TRUMP: You’re going to have to figure that out. OK. You’ll get another Pulitzer, right? But you’ll have to figure that out. But there’s a tremendous hatred. And we have to be very vigilant. We have to be very careful. And we can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States.
COOPER: I guess the question is …
TRUMP: And of people that are not Muslim.
COOPER: I guess the question is, is there a war between the West and radical Islam or between the West and Islam itself?
TRUMP: Well, it’s radical but it’s very hard to define. It’s very hard to separate because you don’t know who is who.
These comments show little difference between the religion of Islam and the radical terrorists, a distinction that other Republican nominees like Ted Cruz have made.
This continues Trump’s dismissal of political correctness for more sweeping and polarizing generalizations. So far, comments like these have not stopped Trump from maintaining a lead as the Republican frontrunner, and have helped brand him as a non-politician that “tells it like it is.”
Voters have responded to that branding of Trump in the states that he’s won. In state exit polls for South Carolina, Nevada, Mississippi, and New Hampshire voters have rated “telling it like it is” as the a top reason they voted for Trump. In Mississippi, for instance, 8 out of 10 voters wanted a candidate who “tells it like it is.”
Next week Trump is looking to plant the knockout punch on his Republican rivals Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. In the polls, Trump leads in important states like Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois.
Trump previously lobbied in December for a ban on all Muslims coming into the U.S, which sparked controversy, and was panned by both Democrats and Republicans as divisive.
The comments come on the eve of the Republican Debate in Miami, where Trump looks to maintain his lead in the state of Florida, where immigration is a key topic.