Presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson on Sunday refused to back down from his comment that a Muslim should not be the President of the United States.
Carson told NBC on Sunday morning that he would “not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” arguing that Islam is not compatible with the U.S. Constitution.
When asked about his comments later on Sunday by The Hill, Carson doubled down on his statement.
“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” he told The Hill. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”
He did offer an exception, noting that he would be comfortable with a Muslim presidential candidate who “publicly rejected all the tenants of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that.”
After Carson’s initial remarks on Sunday, numerous lawmakers rejected his comments.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), slammed Carson while speaking to reporters in New Hampshire on Sunday.
“You know, this is the year 2015,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “You judge candidates for president not on their religion, not on the color of their skin, but on their ideas on what they stand for. … I was very disappointed in Dr. Carson’s statement.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) released a statement on Sunday blasting Carson.
“In interviews today, not one, not two, not three, but four GOP candidates for president failed to clearly support the concept that a person’s religious beliefs should not disqualify him or her from being president,” she said. “It’s hard to understand what’s so difficult about supporting an American citizen’s right to run for president, but unsurprisingly, this left Republicans scratching their heads. Of course a Muslim, or any other American citizen, can run for president, end of story.”