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Ben Carson walks back comment about Muslims cheering 9/11

Ben Carson is walking back comments he made earlier Monday in which he claimed that he saw Muslims cheering in New Jersey during television news coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Trump and Carson argue for more surveillance of Muslims

The Carson campaign told CBS News Monday evening that Carson is "really not" standing behind his earlier statement and that the GOP presidential candidate was thinking of the "ample" news footage he watched of celebrations from the Middle East after 9/11.

Earlier in the day Monday at a rally in Pahrump, Nevada, Carson was asked if Muslims were cheering on 9/11 when the Twin Towers fell.

"Yes," said Carson, who was then asked to elaborate further. "Well, you know, there are going to be people who respond inappropriately to virtually everything. I think that was an inappropriate response. I don't know if on the basis of that you can say all Muslims are bad people; I really think that would be a stretch."

Asked once more to confirm exactly what footage he saw, Carson said he witnessed Muslims cheering on "newsreels" during coverage of the attacks and confirmed it was shot in New Jersey.

His comments came after Donald Trump made a similar assertion twice over the weekend.

"I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering," Trump said Saturday at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama.

Carson backs Trump's controversial 9/11 claim

On ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Trump repeated the claim even as host George Stephanopoulos said police rejected those rumors in the aftermath of the attacks.

"It did happen. I saw it," Trump said. "It was on television. I saw it."

"There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down," he added.

The Washington Post's fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave Trump four "Pinocchios" for his statements, indicating that the claim is completely false.

Trump responded to Kessler on Twitter Monday and linked to a story the Post published in 2001 that Trump seemed to suggest backed up his claim.

Via @washingtonpost 9/18/01. I want an apology! Many people have tweeted that I am right!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2015

Kessler responded, however, pointing out that the story wasn't the proof Trump needed.

@realDonaldTrump @washingtonpost Please show me where this article says 1000s demonstrated--or even if this alleged celebration took place.

— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) November 23, 2015

CBS News Digital Political Reporter Erica Brown contributed to this story.

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