Donald Trump—apparently taken aback by the strong reaction to his support for a mandatory database on US Muslims—is stressing that it wasn't his idea. "I didn't suggest a database—a reporter did," he tweeted on Friday. "We must defeat Islamic terrorism & have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America." After Trump's initial remarks, in response to questions from Yahoo News and NBC reporters, many of his fellow Republicans denounced the idea of tracking Americans based on their religion, including Ben Carson, who warned that it would be "setting a pretty dangerous precedent," CBS reports. Trump's campaign manager complained that the NBC reporter had asked the question amid "blaring music," reports the New York Times.
The issue brought what the Times calls a "rare public distancing" by politicians who have seemed afraid of becoming Trump's next target. One of the few who refused to join the attacks on Trump Friday was Ted Cruz, who said: "I'm a big fan of Donald Trump's, but not a fan of government registries of American citizens," the Washington Post reports. Analysts tell Politico that the controversy probably won't do much to damage Trump, whose poll numbers are rising. "He definitely benefits from this notion of he tells it like it is and he doesn’t care what people think," and he hasn't been hurt by his many other "inflammatory irresponsible statements," GOP consultant Dick Wadhams says.