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Trump Leading Republican Presidential Polls Despite Muslim Comments

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A CBS News poll out Thursday puts Donald Trump far ahead of his nearest Republican challengers in the race for president.

Nationwide, 35 percent of GOP primary voters say they'd like to see Trump get the nomination. That's more than double the support of his nearest competitors, Senator Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.

Part of this poll was taken after Trump proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States over concerns about terrorism.

In Minnesota, leaders of both parties are critical, but Trump's support continues to grow.

Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison said the plan to ban Muslims disqualifies Trump from the presidency. But Minnesota's Republican Party chairman says it's partly President Obama's fault for not showing stronger leadership.

In Minneapolis, the owners of Common Roots Cafe want Muslims to know they are welcome. Posting signs at their business -- and on Twitter -- aimed at Trump, saying "hate has no business here."

"It should go unstated that everyone is welcome here," Elana Schwartzman, co-owner of the cafe, said. "But unfortunately we are seeing a lot of people with unwelcoming, xenophobic and hate-filled messages, and we don't want anyone to think this is an unsafe place."

Trump is leading all Republican presidential candidates by a wide margin, even going up in the polls after his Muslim ban comments.

But Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, says Trump is running a campaign of "hate and resentment" that disqualifies him from the presidency.

"The Muslim community in the U.S. -- we are Americans!" Ellison said. "We fear these terrorists like everybody else. These are some especially nasty people who don't represent our religion at all."

Top Minnesota Republicans distanced themselves from Trump's remarks.

Second District Republican Congressman John Kline, on WCCO Radio, said, "I don't know what Donald Trump's thinking was there, but we are not at war with Islam. And I don't think it's helpful to say no Muslims can come into the country."

Sixth District GOP Congressman Tom Emmer said, "This has nothing to do with Islam, Islam's an excuse."

But one top Republican, Minnesota State Party Chairman Keith Downey, partially blamed the controversy on President Obama for a "lack of strategy" fighting terrorism.

In a written statement, Downey said:

"Freedom of religion is at the foundation of our country and all of western civilization, and our Party stands steadfast for it. Given President Obama's lack of a strategy combating Islamic terrorism, especially ISIS posing as Syrian refugees, it is important for candidates to explain their approach, but no proposal should violate religious freedom."

Trump is apparently not as strong in Minnesota as he is in other states.

A straw poll of 283 top Minnesota Republican leaders last weekend had Trump in fourth place, behind Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina.

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