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Trump unfazed by widespread criticism

Republican presidential contender Donald Trump said his call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. sparked a useful discussion about radicalism within that community, and he’s not daunted by polls showing most Americans oppose the idea.

“I didn’t do this for polls so I don’t even care what the polls say,” Trump said in an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union With Jake Tapper.” “My polls happen to have gone up a lot since this announcement, a lot of people thought they’d go down. I didn’t do it for that reason.”

The proposal, made on Dec. 7, sparked outrage from some Republicans in the presidential race and prompted Secretary of State John Kerry, on Sunday, to say it posed a threat to national security and is unconstitutional. Trump said he faced more controversy with earlier calls to stop illegal immigration.

 Citing Tashfeen Malik, the woman who with her husband Syed Rizwan Farook killed 14 people during a shooting rampage at a San Bernardino developmental center this month, Trump said the U.S. needs to “get its hands around the problem” of radical followers of the religion and the threat they create. Malik, born in Pakistan and raised in Saudi Arabia, entered the U.S. on a fiancee visa.

Asked about Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims on ABC News on Sunday, Kerry said it was “contrary to American values and would threaten security by discriminating against a religion.”

“It does endanger national security, because it exhibits an attitude by one American who is running for the highest office of our land about a willingness to discriminate against a religion,” Kerry said. “I mean that is against our constitution, it is against who we are as Americans.”

Speaking on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, said Trump’s proposal was a “huge mistake” that threatens to alienate the same Muslims the U.S. will need to fight against Islamic State.

“How do you tell the Bahraini pilots that fly, the Saudi pilots that fly and the Emirati pilots ‘You’re good enough to fight against ISIL, but you’re not good enough to come to the United States?’ Huge mistake,” Burr said. “I think that this sends the wrong message to people that have to be part of our partnership for a solution. And yes, it does serve as fuel.”

Burr said that Malik’s entrance into the U.S. showed the immigration screening process had broken down and missed the couple’s radicalization, adding that the program needs to be reexamined following the California attack.

During the CNN appearance and on Fox News, Trump said President Barack Obama is unwilling to even discuss radical Islam because of political correctness. He also criticized fellow Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, for questioning his credentials to be president in a closed-door meeting.

A Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released on Saturday showed Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, has surged ahead of Trump in the campaign for the Iowa caucuses.

“I think he made them partially to recapture the limelight after having lost it,” Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, said of Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Trump “is reminding us in that process that people are really upset and they’re really scared,” Rubio said. “I just have very strong reservations about what he’s expressed up to this point about his understanding on some of these critical issues before our country.”

Trump, the billionaire businessman and reality television star whose run has so far been aided by his position as a political outsider, said he’s “disappointed” at recent reports that party leaders are discussing the potential for a brokered convention in response to his rise.

“They’re going to have to get used to it,” he said. “I’ve been hearing about these closed-door meetings and I don’t like that. That wasn’t the deal I made. I signed a pledge.”-Bloomberg