Trump under fire over anti-Muslim backer

  • 19/09/2015
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Reuters)
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Reuters)

By Michael Mathes

Democratic presidential candidates have slammed Donald Trump for failing to challenge a questioner who wrongly claimed President Barack Obama was a Muslim and not a US citizen.

The campaign trail exchange triggered the latest uproar over the Republican frontrunner's regard for minorities in America, and prompted at least one Republican White House hopeful to say he would have corrected the man immediately.

"We have a problem in this country, it's called Muslims. We know our current president is one, you know he's not even an American," an unidentified man told Trump at the billionaire real estate magnate's campaign stop late on Thursday in Rochester, New Hampshire.

Trump chuckled and interrupted him to say: "We need this question. This is the first question."

"Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us," the man resumed. "That's my question: When can we get rid of them?"

"A lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there," Trump responded.

Trump quickly moved on to another questioner, without addressing the man's assertions about Obama - which reflect a lingering misconception among the American public.

While Trump did not himself address Obama's religion or citizenship, his failure to shut down the questioner highlighted a propensity to court controversy when it comes to minorities and immigrants.

When he launched his campaign in June he attacked Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and killers, and has repeatedly denigrated foreign nationals who enter the country and give birth to so-called "anchor babies" entitled to claim US citizenship.

Thursday's exchange prompted outrage from Democrats and demands for an apology.

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton tweeted that Trump's failure to denounce the "hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out".