Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson speaks to the crowd at the Heritage Action Presidential Candidate Forum September 18, 2015 in Greenville, South Carolina. Sean Rayford/Getty Images/AFP
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Republican White House contender Ben Carson shook off growing criticism and refused Monday to back off his weekend charge that a Muslim shouldn't be elected as U.S. president.In an interview with Fox News, Carson said he would be open to a moderate Muslim who denounced radical Islam as a White House candidate. It also highlights a sentiment among voters in both parties who agree with Carson's reluctance to elect a Muslim to the nation's highest office.Carson, a devout Christian, is running just behind businessman Donald Trump among Republican voters in Iowa, whose caucuses next February will kick off the state-by-state nominating contests.At least one Republican joined a chorus of Democrats condemning Carson's statement.A June Gallup poll found that 54 percent of Republicans would not vote for a well-qualified Muslim nominee from their own party; 39 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats said the same.Republican front-runner Donald Trump declined last week to correct a voter at a campaign event who inaccurately stated that Obama is a Muslim.
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