CONCORD, N.H. — Ben Carson on Friday officially filed for New Hampshire’s presidential primary, then waded through a bog of questions about whether special surveillance or “databases” were required to keep track of possible Muslims extremists.
“I think we should have a database on everybody who comes into this country,” Carson told reporters in the state house. Told that rival Donald Trump had proposed tracking Muslims already in the United States, Carson added that “hopefully, we already have a database on every citizen who is already here. If we don’t, we are doing a very poor job.”
The grilling was inspired by a set of remarks Trump made on Thursday, first to Yahoo News’s Hunter Walker, then to NBC News’s Vaughn Hillyard, which were reported as the Republican frontrunner’s endorsement of “a database system tracking Muslims in the United States.” Trump’s haphazard responses to the idea, and Carson’s insistence that the right kind of databases already existed, were the latest examples of how the rise of two outsiders untrained in politico-speak were roiling the Republican debate.
Carson, who spent part of September grappling with the question of whether faithful Muslims could hold political office, was less thrown by the “database” question. But it took several tries for reporters to explain just what the controversy had been and that Trump seemed to be proposing special “registration” by Muslims currently living in America.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to treat anybody differently,” Carson said. “You know, one of the hallmarks of America is that we treat everybody the same. So if we’re just going to pick out a particular group of people based on their religion, based on their race, based on some other type of thing, that’s setting a dangerous precedent.”
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