(CNSNews.com) - "I don't want to be so politically correct," Republican Donald Trump said Thursday night as he repeated his claim that "there is tremendous hate" on the part of Muslims toward America.
The controversy erupted Wednesday night, when Trump told CNN's Anderson Cooper, "I think Islam hates us." At the CNN-hosted debate on Thursday, moderator Jake Tapper asked Trump, "Did you mean all 1.6 billion Muslims?"
"I mean a lot of them! I mean a lot of them," Trump responded."There's something going on that maybe you don't know about, maybe a lot of other people don't know about, but there's tremendous hatred. And I will stick with exactly what I said to Anderson Cooper."
Rubio, invited to weigh in, said, "a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says, because he says what people wish they could say. The problem is, presidents can't just say anything they want. It has consequences, here and around the world."
Rubio then talked about two Christian missionaries in Muslim-majority Bangladesh who rely on "friendly Muslims" for their safety and security. "And they tell me that today they have a very hostile environment in which to operate in because the news is coming out that in America, leading political figures are saying that America doesn't like Muslims. So this is a real impact."
Rubio agreed that "radical Islam is a danger in the world," but he also reminded the audience that Muslims have fought and died for this country: "Anyone out there that has the uniform of the United States on and is willing to die for this country is someone that loves America -- no matter what their religious background may be."
"Marco talks about consequences," Trump said. "Well, we've had a lot of consequences, including airplanes flying into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and could have been the White House. There have been a lot of problems.
"Now you can say what you want, and you can be politically correct if you want. I don't want to be so politically correct. I like to solve problems. We have a serious, serious problem of hate.
"There is tremendous hate. There is tremendous hate. Where large portions of a group of people, Islam, large portions want to use very, very harsh means. Let me go a step further. Women are treated horribly. You know that. You do know that. Women are treated horribly, and other things are happening that are very, very bad.
"Now I will say this, there is tremendous hatred. The question was asked, what do you think? I said, there is hatred. Now it would be very easy for me to say something differently. And everybody would say, oh, isn't that wonderful. We better solve the problem before it's too late," Trump warned, without explaining how he'd solve it.
Rubio, responding, said, "I'm not interested in being politically correct. I'm not interested in being politically correct. I'm interested in being correct."
The senator agreed that "Islam has a major problem on its hands" with radicalization, but he also said Americans need to work with Muslims who are not radicals. "We are going to have to work with people of the Muslim faith even as Islam itself faces a serious crisis within it of radicalization."
Returning to the topic several minutes later, Trump said, "In large mosques, all over the Middle East, you have people chanting 'death to the USA.' Now, that does not sound like a friendly act to me."