A daily look at how the presidential candidates of both parties are trying to win the “First in the South” primary.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims traveling to and from the United States during a campaign stop in Mount Pleasant on Monday night.
Trump initially called for the ban in an email sent out before the event at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. The real estate mogul was not specific on how such a travel ban would be enforced. However, the email seemed to suggest such a ban would not only cover Muslim immigration and refugees, but those visiting the country on tourist visas and would even bar American citizens who are Muslim from traveling abroad.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said to cheers from more than a thousand in attendance Monday.
Trump has toughened his rhetoric ever since the suspected ISIS-inspired attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. The male San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook was an American-born citizen who had made several trips to the Mideast. His Pakistani-born wife Tashfeen Malik had grown up in Saudi Arabia but came to the United States on a “fiancé visa” to marry Farook. Malik had expressed support for ISIS on social media, but investigators do not believe the pair had any actual connections to the group.
The frontrunner cited a poll by the conservative thinktank Center for Security Policy that appears to show roughly a third of self-identified Muslims surveyed believe Sharia Law holds higher authority than the Constitution and that a quarter consider violence justified against the United States justified. However, pollsters have questioned the poll’s nontraditional methods, accusing the center’s founder of strong anti-Islamic views.
“They don’t want our system and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Trump said of that Muslim minority. “They have no respect for human life.”
He also said more needs to be done to stop jihadist websites that he believes radicalize Muslim youth into planning such attacks. “We have to talk… maybe, in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way,” he said. “Somebody will say, ‘Oh (but) freedom of speech!’ These are foolish people.”
While he got cheers from the crowd, most of Trump’s Republican rivals distanced themselves from the positions. South Carolina’s Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore even called the ban an attack on religious liberty. “As a conservative who truly cares about religious liberty, Donald Trump’s bad idea and rhetoric send a shiver down my spine,” Moore tweeted during the Trump’s speech. “American exceptionalism means always defending our inalienable rights, not attacking them when it’s politically convenient.”
Protesters yelling “Black Lives Matter!” interrupted Trump roughly six or seven times during his speech. Each time, Trump asked they be removed “nicely” as his supporters chanted “Trump! Trump!” and “U-S-A! U-S-A!” The businessman even questioned the event’s security at one point saying it “was not doing a good job.”
Mount Pleasant was Trump’s only stop on Monday. He will return to South Carolina on Saturday, for a noon event at the University of South Carolina’s Aiken campus.
— Fellow GOP presidential candidate Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was in Greenville Monday, campaigning as new polls show he is gaining on Trump in Iowa. The senator spoke at a town hall gathering hosted by South Carolina’s junior U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy at Furman University.
A pair of polls released Sunday both have Cruz in the highest two
Cruz spoke against bringing in refugees from Iraq and Syria, saying he had introduced legislation in the Senate that would place a three-year moratorium on refugees coming from countries where ISIS controls “significant amounts of territory.” The Texan also pledged to be tough on enforcing immigration laws if elected.
“This administration is not enforcing the law,” he told reporters before the event. “What should we do? Number one: we should secure the borders and Number two: we should enforce the laws. The law provides that, if an illegal alien is apprehended, then he or she should be deported.”
Cruz also stopped by his Greenville headquarters to work phone banks on Monday afternoon.
— Ohio Governor John Kasich is attending a town hall with South Carolina’s top prosecutor in Myrtle Beach. Kasich is flailing in the polls, with no South Carolina survey showing his support above the margin of error.
Kasich will participate in an hour-long forum hosted by the Conservative Leadership Project at the Crown Reef Resort and Conference Center. Kasich and state Attorney General Alan Wilson will talk about the constitution, the rule of law and likely upcoming appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wilson has invited all Republican presidential hopefuls to take part in the series and most have acquiesced.