POLITICS

Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham Rebuke Ben Carson Over Anti-Muslim Comments

"America is an idea, not owned by a particular religion."

It's not every day that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) publicly breaks with one of his fellow Republican rivals for the presidential nomination. But the conservative firebrand did just that Sunday when he joined Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in rebuking Ben Carson after the famed neurosurgeon said the U.S. should not elect a Muslim president.

“You know, the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office and I am a constitutionalist,” Cruz said on Iowa public television. He also again declined to weigh in on President Barack Obama's faith, saying it was a matter between him and God.

Earlier Sunday, Graham reacted to Carson's remarks on Twitter by claiming the doctor "is not ready to be Commander-In-Chief. America is an idea, not owned by a particular religion."

The presidential hopeful further called on Carson to apologize to American Muslims, arguing that although Carson was a "good doctor," he was "clearly not prepared to lead a great nation."

Carson caused a stir Sunday after he told NBC's Chuck Todd that he would not support a Muslim becoming president. He claimed that Islam is "inconsistent with the values and principles of America" and is incompatible with the Constitution.

A campaign spokesman doubled-down later Sunday, saying "there is a huge gulf between the faith and practice of the Muslim faith, and our Constitution and American values."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which calls itself the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., will on Monday call for Carson to withdraw from the race.

UPDATE: 11:18 a.m. -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) issued a statement Monday saying he was happy to "indulge the media for a moment and play their gotcha game" by responding to Carson.

"If you can find me a Muslim candidate who is a Republican, who will fight hard to protect religious liberty, who will respect the Judeo-Christian heritage of America, who will be committed to destroying ISIS and radical Islam, who will condemn cultures that treat women as second class citizens and who will place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution, then yes, I will be happy to consider voting for him or her," he said. "If you can’t, I’ll settle for voting for a Christian Governor from Louisiana."

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