Republican front runner Donald Trump continued his attack on Muslims claiming 'Islam hates us' and 'there is 'a tremendous amount of hatred there,' during an interview aired on CNN on Wednesday.
While not going as far as to say all 1.6 billion Muslims despise America, the front-runner to be Republican presidential candidate did not appear pained to separate radical Islamic terrorism and the entire faith.
Asked if he thought that the anger was coming from the religion itself, Trump, 68, threw the question back at interviewer Anderson Cooper and said that was for the media to work out themselves.
'You're gonna have to figure that out, OK?'; said Trump to Cooper. 'We have to be very vigilant. We have to be very careful. And we can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States.'
The billionaire businessman also claimed the invasion of Iraq was the 'worst decision in the history of the United States'.
Indeed, he described Saddam Hussein as a great 'terrorist hunter' and suggested following the dictator's execution, Iraq became the 'Harvard of terrorism'.
Speaking to Anderson Cooper on CNN, Trump insisted: 'I think Islam hates us. There's a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There is an unbelievable hatred of us.'
Asked by Cooper whether he thought there was a 'war between the West and radical Islam' or 'war between the West and Islam itself,' Trump replied: 'It's radical, but it's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate. Because you don't know who's who.'
Earlier in the campaign, Trump suggested he would temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the United States.
In an effort to justify this policy, he claimed it was too difficult to differentiate between jihadis and law-abiding Muslims.
The proposal has been condemned by opponents who suggest it will alienate moderate Muslims.
Trump claimed: 'We have to be very vigilant, very careful and we can't be allowing people into this country who have this hatred of the United States.'
Earlier, Trump attacked Ohio governor John Kasich during a campaign rally in Fayettville, North Carolina.
Opinion polls suggest Kasich has overtaken Trump in Ohio with the governor likely to win his home state.
Trump described Kasich as an 'absentee governor'. Commenting on his own chances of success, Trump said he expects to 'do great, great, great in Ohio'.
'He claimed: 'It's going to be amazing. I think we're going to have a fantastic week.'
Trump victories in Ohio and in Senator Marco Rubio's home state of Florida could leave the Republican nomination a straight fight between the mogul and Texas senator Ted Cruz.
Opponents of the businessman in Ohio are spending $1 million on a series of attack ads to be shown over the next five days.
The campaign is being funded by Our Principles PAC, which consists of wealthy donors and senior Republican strategists.
The group also is spending $2 million in Florida, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's CMAG. Florida, where Trump rival Marco Rubio is a senator, and Ohio, where candidate John Kasich is governor, both weigh in Tuesday on the Republican primary.
Our Principles is supplementing its air war with voter calls and mail.
By Darren Boyle
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.