Republican president candidate Ben Carson tells Newsmax TV
that he's "surprised" that a new Rasmussen Reports survey found that only 51 percent of Americans agreed with him that no Muslim should serve in the White House.
"I'm surprised it's only 51 percent," Carson, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon, told "Newsmax Prime" host J.D. Hayworth. "If people actually understood all the tenets of that faith and recognize that it does not believe in the separation of church and state, but instead advocates for a theocracy.
"As I've said before, if a Christian was running for president of the United States but their agenda was to establish a theocracy, I would not advocate for them, either," he said.
Carson, who's placing at No. 2 in recent national polls, sparked a furor this week when he said he would not support having a Muslim as president. While he got plenty of heat for his declaration, the Rasmussen poll
Thursday found 51 percent of Americans agree.
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Only 28 percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed on Tuesday and Wednesday by Rasmussen said they would support a Muslim at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, while 20 percent remained undecided.
In addition, 52 percent said most of their family, friends and co-workers would not vote for a Muslim president. Only 15 percent said they would, and 32 percent said they were not sure.
Carson doubled down on his original remarks in his Friday interview with Hayworth.
"I said I don't care where a person comes from, what their religious faith is, if they subscribe to American values and are willing to place our Constitution above their religious beliefs, I have no problem with them," he said.
"That is the case and that includes anybody. Everybody includes everybody," Carson emphasized. "The follow-up question was 'What about a Muslim?' So, the context of that question was somebody who didn't do what I just described.
"Obviously, in that situation, I'm not going to advocate for that because I believe in America and I believe in our Constitution," he added. "Why would I support somebody who has a belief system that is inconsistent with that?"
Carson told Hayworth that anyone of the Islamic faith willing to "accept the American way and accept our Constitution as supreme over the Quran, over Sharia over Hadith, over all of that, then I have no problem with them."
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