Republican presidential frontrunner and brash real estate mogul Donald Trump has doubled down on his claim that "Islam hates us" during and after Thursday night's presidential debate, suggesting that Islam shows "tremendous hatred" and "virtually 100 percent" of mosques are radical.
During the CNN debate in Miami, the 69-year-old Manhattan business man was asked to clarify comments he made Wednesday during an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper when he said that "I think Islam hates us" and added that "tremendous hatred" partially defines the religion.
"There's something going on that maybe you don't know about, maybe a lot of other people don't know about, but there's tremendous hatred," Trump said at the debate in response to a question by CNN's Jake Tapper. "And I will stick with exactly what I said to Anderson Cooper."
After the conclusion of the two-hour debate, Trump was asked by CNN's Chris Cuomo in an interview whether he thought that his Muslim employees and his Muslim friends are also "part of the hatred" that he speaks about.
"I do [have Muslim friends], but you look at the mosques and you go to various places and you look at what's going on there — it's virtually 100 percent," Trump contended. "Certainly you could say radical Islam is a disaster right now, it's causing tremendous problems worldwide, not just here. But the question was asked about Islam and there's a great hatred, there's no question about it."
Trump, who made headlines in December after he called for a complete ban on all Muslims entering the United States, was criticized heavily for his remarks by the home-state candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Rubio, who is currently in third place in the race for the Republican nomination, said that Trump's comments are another example why Trump appeals to a number of voters — "because he says what people wish they could say."
"The problem is, presidents can't just say anything they want," Rubio argued. "It has consequences, here and around the world."
Rubio explained that he met a couple that works as Christian missionaries in Bangladesh and they told him that their work environment is very hostile right now because of American politicians' comments that are critical on the religion of Islam.
"Their safety and security very much relies upon friendly Muslims that live alongside them, that may not convert, but protect them and certainly look out for them. And their mission field really are Muslims that are looking to convert to Christianity as well," Rubio detailed. "And they tell me that today they have a very hostile environment in which to operate in because the news is coming out that in America, leading political figures are saying that America doesn't like Muslims. So this is a real impact."
In addition, Rubio pointed out that a number of Muslims risk their own lives to serve in the United States military.
"I can also tell you if you go to any national cemetery, especially Arlington, you're going to see crescent moons there," Rubio assured. "Anyone out there that has the uniform of the United States on and is willing to die for this country is someone that loves America, no matter what their religious background may be."
Trump fired back arguing that Rubio was being politically correct and once again hammered on his contention that "there is tremendous hate." He also pointed out that in many Islamic cultures women are treated horribly.
"There is tremendous hate where large portions of a group of people, Islam, large portions want to use very, very harsh means," Trump said. "Let me go a step further. Women are treated horribly. You know that. You do know that. Women are treated horribly, and other things are happening that are very, very bad."
"I'm not interested in being politically correct. I'm interested in being correct," Rubio responded.
Rubio admitted that Islam does have a problem — especially in the Sunni sect — with radicalization and terrorism. However, the U.S. will have to work with other Muslim nations like Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in order to defeat extremist groups like the Islamic State, he added.