NEWTON, Iowa – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump voiced support Thursday evening for creating a mandatory database to track Muslims in the United States — the latest in an escalating series of responses following the deadly attacks in Paris.
"I would certainly implement that. Absolutely," Trump told an NBC News reporter between campaign events in Newton, Iowa, according to video posted on MSNBC.com.
He said Muslims would be signed up at "different places," adding: "It's all about management."
Asked whether registering would be mandatory, Trump responded: "They have to be."
The latest comments come less than a week after the deadly attacks on a concert hall, sports stadium and restaurants in Paris that have elevated fears of attacks in in the U.S. and prompted calls for new restrictions on Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country.
While some of his rivals have been chastised by the president for suggesting that Christian Syrian refugees be given preference over Muslims, Trump has gone further in his rhetoric, advocating new restrictions on civil liberties and enhanced surveillance activities, including inside mosques.
He said earlier this week that the country was "going to have no choice" but to close certain mosques because "really bad things are happening, and they're happening fast."
The first reference to the database idea came in an interview with Yahoo News published earlier Thursday in which the billionaire real estate mogul did not reject the idea of requiring Muslims to register in a database or giving them special identification cards noting their religion.
"We're going to have to — we're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely," Trump told Yahoo News.
He also suggested he would consider warrantless searches, according to the outlet, saying: "We're going to have to do things that we never did before."
Asked by reporters Thursday night to explain his Yahoo comments, Trump suggested his response had been misconstrued. "I never responded to that question," he said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Thursday condemning Trump for what the group described as "Islamophobic and unconstitutional" comments targeting American Muslims and Syrian refugees.
They also criticized Trump rival Ben Carson, who on Thursday compared blocking potential terrorists posing as Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. to handling a rabid dog.
"If there's a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog," Carson told reporters at a campaign stops in Alabama. "It doesn't mean you hate all dogs, but you're putting your intellect into motion."
"By mainstreaming Islamophobic and unconstitutional policies, Donald Trump and Ben Carson are contributing to an already toxic environment that may be difficult to correct once their political ambitions have been satisfied," CAIR's Robert McCaw said in a statement.
Trump was in Iowa Thursday for a televised question-and-answer session hosted by WHO-TV at the Des Moines Area Community College.
Trump arrived at the interview eight minutes late, forcing hosts to ad-lib as they awaited his arrival live on air.
Many in the audience were former employees of a Maytag plant that shut down in 2007 and the questions focused on economic issues, including how a Trump White House would help low-income workers pay for skills-training necessary to find new jobs.
"Well, one of the things that I see in this country is a lot of people have lost hope, they've lost their spirit, they've lost their mojo, you know, to go out and go to the community college," Trump responded.
"We can talk economics, we can talk everything, but one of the things is we have to give people their spirit back, we have to give people hope."
At a rally afterward, Trump again railed against accepting Syrian refugees, professed his love for Iowa and took a few shots at his fellow candidates.
He said Carson's campaign was in "freefall" and said Sen. Marco Rubio "never shows up to vote because he's campaigning."
Before he left, Trump spent about fifteen minutes shaking hands and taking photos on a rope line. He also ordered pizza from Dominos to feed the entire crowd.
Colvin reported from Spartanburg, South Carolina.