SENIOR Republicans are scrambling to denounce presidential candidate and current front-runner Donald Trump as the fall-out from his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States continues to intensify.
Not for the first time the outspoken billionaire has attracted the ire of the Republican establishment and wider public for his controversial statements, but until now top party figures have avoided condemning Trump outright.
His latest statement that “We need a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on” has sparked international outcry with UK Prime Minister David Cameron declaring the remarks “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.”
Over 90,000 people have so far signed a petition to ban Trump from the UK under hate-speech legislation as Scotland Yard issued a statement that the former Apprentice host “could not be more wrong” over his claim that parts of London are no-go for the police due to radicalisation.
Perhaps sensing blood in a highly competitive and volatile campaign to secure the Republican nomination for president, rivals Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have attacked the property mogul’s views, but it is the reaction of leading establishment figures that will have the most impact on a campaign that has gone from side-show to threat.
Former vice-president Dick Cheney has called the remarks “un-American” while house-speaker Paul Ryan said the plans were clearly unconstitutional.
With just under two months before the first primary caucus in Iowa, Trump retains a solid lead in republican polls as the debate over his insurgent candidacy has inflamed passions and ignited a battle over the soul of the party.
Trump has remained immune to the wave of political criticism and has stated his willingness to run independently if excluded from the Republican process.