Republican presidential contender Ben Carson has kicked up a cloud of controversy over his remarks about not supporting a Muslim president, and while many of the right cheered the retired neurosurgeon for his candor, Ted Cruz — perhaps the most conservative of Carson’s primary opposition — had his own take on the issue.
Carson was asked Sunday during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” if a candidate’s faith should be considered when electing a president, and if he believed Islam is consistent with the Constitution?
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Carson replied. “I absolutely would not agree with that.”
To the surprise of no one, Cruz fell back on the U.S. Constitution when commenting on Carson’s position during the taping of “Iowa Press” at Iowa Public Television, according to the Des Moines Register.
“You know, the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office and I am a constitutionalist,” Cruz said.
In any other context, the words would have been unremarkable. But in the crowded field of contenders for the Republican nomination in 2016, Cruz has set himself as courting the most conservative elements in the Republican Party. His answer Sunday, while gratifiying some parts of the base, is sure to alienate a good part of that bloc.
While Carson may have gotten caught in yet another “gotcha question,” his response was focused on radical Islam, even though the retired neurosurgeon did encompass the entire religion in his response.
The focus on religion was prompted by a supporter of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who last week called President Obama a Muslim. But Cruz shrewdly had stayed above the fray.
“My view, listen. The president’s faith is between him and God,” the senator from Texas said. “What I’m going to focus on is his public policy record.”
Cruz seized the opportunity to advocate for Christians in the Middle East, the Register reported.
While discussing the flow of refugees out of Syria, Cruz said Muslims should be resettled in other Middle Eastern countries out of concern for terrorists infiltrating those fleeing the war-torn country. But he was comfortable with Christians seeking asylum in the United States.
“I think the Christians are a very different circumstance because Christians are being persecuted, they are being persecuted directly for their faith and the Obama administration has abandoned Middle East Christians,” Cruz said.
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