Jeb Bush: Religion Shouldn't Be A Qualification For President

"The idea that you would think otherwise is not grounded in reality."

MASON CITY, Iowa -- Jeb Bush disagreed with Ben Carson Monday over whether a Muslim candidate should be able to become president, saying that a person's faith shouldn't matter.

“I don’t think religion should be a criteria for being president,” Bush told a group of reporters following a campaign stop in Mason City, Iowa.

Carson told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he would “not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation" because he viewed the values of Islam as incompatible with the Constitution.

On the stage Monday night, Bush did not speak about the recent controversy dominating the headlines. When prompted by reporters, Bush went on to explain that he knows many peaceful Muslims living in the United States that are patriotic, some of whom serve in the military.

“The idea that you would think otherwise is not grounded in reality,” he said of Carson, a neurosurgeon who is also vying for the GOP nomination.

The former Florida governor also pointed to the city of Detroit and the many people playing constructive roles there.

“These are Arab-Americans. Some of them are Christian, some of them are Muslim,” he said.

Bush said singling out groups of voters is not the solution.

“I just don’t think that we should be breaking ourselves up in our disparate parts. It’s just not something I’d adhere to, and frankly I don’t think it’s very productive for the conversation," he said.

In a recent CNN/ORC poll, Bush placed fifth among likely GOP voters, at 9 percent support.

Carson refused to apologize for his statements on Fox News’ "Hannity" Monday evening, stating that he did not want a leader whose faith may interfere with carrying out the duties of the Constitution. 

Jeb Bush