WASHINGTON - Donald Trump's eye-popping proposal to ban Muslim travel to the United States prompted a flood of commentary from abroad Tuesday, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Unlike the spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who called Trump's religion-based border controls unhelpful and wrong, Trudeau avoided referring to Trump by name.
When asked about political developments to the south, Trudeau and some of his ministers said they didn't want to interfere in a foreign election — but chided Muslim-bashing politics all the same.
"Canadians are very aware of my feelings on this," Trudeau said in remarks echoed by a number of cabinet ministers, including Melanie Joly, Stephane Dion and John McCallum.
"And they, by the way, sided pretty clearly against the politics of fear and division in our election here."
It was far softer than the condemnation that rained down upon Trump within his own country — even from quarters not generally inclined to weigh in on a Republican primary discussion.
The Republicans' top figure in Congress, Paul Ryan, said he'd break his no-interference rule to castigate comments he called antithetical to American values and to conservative principles.
But the White House demanded deeper repudiation.
"Canadians are very aware of my feelings on this."
A spokesman for President Barack Obama insisted that Republicans pledge to oppose Trump should he become the nominee — a significant step farther than any have taken.
"What Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president," said Obama spokesman Josh Earnest. "And any Republican who's too fearful of the Republican base to admit it has no business serving as president either...
"It's morally reprehensible. It runs counter to the Constitution. And it has consequences for our national security."
The tone of U.S. media coverage also appears to have shifted.
News organizations have frequently derided Trump as a buffoonish sideshow in the serious process of picking a president. They're suddenly comparing him to things far more sinister than a clown.
That change was illustrated on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News: "The New Furor," was its lead headline under an unflatteringly timed photo of Trump with an extended arm.
An interviewer on MSNBC told him: "There's a number of Americans you're really scaring right now, including me."
Another interviewer on CNN put it more bluntly: "Leaders from your own party (are) saying this is un-American and extreme and that it makes you a fascist. How do you respond?"
This was the day after Trump read out a statement on his new policy to a partisan crowd. He received cheers throughout a caustic speech where he railed against the media in the back of the room as "absolute scum."
Arianna Huffington announced a policy change in how Donald Trump is covered in The Huffington Post.
The Huffington Post announced its own policy change. Trump was no longer to be treated as a joke. The website had covered Trump in its entertainment section since the summer.
Now the primaries are less than two months away. Trump remains in first place in the Republican polls. And he's supplemented his promise to deport 11 million mostly Hispanic illegal migrants with a policy aimed at Muslims.
It would be the United States' first culture-based entry ban in approximately seven decades, since the repeal of Asian-exclusion laws. The comic relief is over, the site founder declared.
"(Trump's campaign has) morphed into something else: an ugly and dangerous force in American politics," Arianna Huffington wrote in a post. "So we will no longer be covering his campaign in Entertainment...The 'can you believe he said that?' novelty has curdled and congealed into something repellent and threatening."
Bounced back from controversy
Like an inflatable punching bag, though, Trump has repeatedly bounced back from controversy and defied the disdain of opinion elites. He brushed off the concerns of interviewers Tuesday.
When pressed about how his plan would work — American passports do not have a religious affiliation stamped on them — Trump explained that border guards would ask a question.
"They would say, 'Are you Muslim?'" Trump told MSNBC.
If travellers answer yes, he said, they'd be banned.
Fellow Republicans denounced him with varying degrees of acerbity. Jeb Bush called him unhinged, Sen. Lindsey Graham called him a race-baiting, xenophobic bigot, but some presidential candidates higher up in the polls, like Sen. Ted Cruz, distanced themselves more cautiously.
None have said they'd oppose him, should he win their party's nomination.
— With files from Melanie Marquis in Ottawa
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