POLITICS

Jeb Bush Won't Bow To Polls On Muslim Ban

He's putting principles before popularity.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) says a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. is a "horrific idea."
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) says a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. is a "horrific idea."

One jarring result out of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary was an exit poll that found about two-thirds of the state's Republican voters said they would support a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as visitors or immigrants.

That highlights an awkward situation for GOP candidates who condemned the idea that first-place New Hampshire finisher Donald Trump had proposed-- it's one thing to take jabs at a demagoguing politician, but another to seem critical of voters.

Republican former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who came fourth in New Hampshire, has long said Trump's proposal was a bad idea. And he stuck with that message on Wednesday, even after the exit polling showed many New Hampshire GOP voters disagreed.

"If you ask them how important that is, I'm sure that it was a pretty low number," Bush told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" from South Carolina, where he continued campaigning. The exit polls did not ask those surveyed how important that issue was to them.

"If I believe what I believe -- in this case I think it would be horrific, it goes against American values to call for a ban of innocent Muslims and it also makes it impossible to build a coalition to destroy ISIS where it needs to be done, in the Caliphate -- I'm not going to follow what the polls say," he continued.

Bush repeated that he thinks it's "a horrific idea."

"It sends this signal of divisiveness at a time when we need to find things that unite us," he said. "Our country has fallen apart. And we don't need presidents, candidates on the left or right, that continue to prey on that division. We need someone who can actually be president to create a set of purposes that unite us. And one of those is we need to protect the homeland from Islamic terrorism and you don't do that by banning all Muslims."

It's not just New Hampshire where many Republican voters support a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. A Washington Post-ABC News poll in December found that 59 percent of GOP voters nationwide supported a ban. But most Americans oppose one -- 60 percent of voters total said it would be the wrong thing to do.

Bush has acknowledged the idea "resonates politically," as he said in December, but he has also maintained it would be harmful to the country.

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