Donald Trump speaking in Jacksonville, Florida yesterday: “I love Iowa. And, look, I don’t have to say it, I’m Presbyterian. Can you believe it? Nobody believes I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”
Trump’s rival, Dr. Ben Carson, is a Seventh-day Adventist.
This morning, Donald Trump appeared on ABC News’ This Week, insisting he had not attacked Carson on his religious beliefs or done anything wrong:
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don’t. I know nothing about it really. I’m a Presbyterian and I had mentioned that, and I did say I don’t know about it. And in fact those are my exact words.
So I just really know about the Seventh Day Adventists. I just — you know, and that’s what I said.
STEPHANOPOULOUS: But why raise it all? You know, some conservatives claim the Seventh Day Adventists are not Christian. Were you trying to send a dog whistle to them because Ben Carson is beating you among evangelicals in Iowa?
TRUMP: No, not at all. In fact, I think nationwide I’m beating Ben with the evangelicals.
But, no, not at all. I just don’t know about that particular religion.
STEPHANOPOULOUS: Back to my question. Why raise it?
TRUMP: Because I just said I don’t know about it. I said nothing about it. I would never say bad — I’d never say bad about any religion. And as you know, in fact, I think you just had a quote on, I said exactly “I don’t know about it”. So you know –
STEPHANOPOULOUS: Ben Carson –
TRUMP: That’s not an insult.
STEPHANOPOULOUS: Ben Carson has asked for an apology. Will you give it to him?
TRUMP: Well, I didn’t say anything bad about it. I just don’t know about it. I would certainly give an apology if I said something bad about it. But I didn’t. All I said was I don’t know about it.
Asked about two recent polls showing him trailing Carson, Trump said, “we had such an unbelievable turnout that I find it really difficult to believe that I’m in second place.”