Donald Trump: ‘I will never leave this race’ despite criticism
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said he will never leave the 2016 race despite widespread criticism of his remarks about Muslims.
Mr Trump told the Washington Post he would not step aside, no matter what.
The White House had said Mr Trump was “disqualified” from running after he said the US should ban Muslims from entering the country.
His comments, in the wake of a deadly terror attack in California, drew global condemnation.
The latest world leader to reject his remarks was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Israel “respects all religions”, hours after Mr Trump announced he will be visiting the country this month.
Mr Trump is the current frontrunner among the Republicans running for president, six weeks before the primary contests begin for each party to pick their nominee.
He also alluded to running as an independent in a tweet linking to a USA Todaypoll which found 68% of his supporters would vote for him if he left the Republican party.
Concerned that Mr Trump could run as an independent, Republican leaders persuaded the New York businessman to pledge to support the eventual nominee.
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However, Mr Trump has threatened to leave the Republican party before if he was not “treated fairly”.
“My whole life is about winning. I don’t lose often. I almost never lose,” he told the Post.
Party officials fear a third-party Trump campaign would spilt the Republican vote, and give Democrats a winning advantage.
Although Mr Trump has consistently led in national polls for several months, a majority of voters view him unfavourably.
Republican congressman David Jolly has joined a number of commentators who have urged him to withdraw from the race.
Mr Trump’s comments about Muslims came after the deadly shootings in San Bernardino, California.
He called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”.
A Muslim couple, believed to have been radicalised, killed 14 people at a health centre and left scores injured.
Many leading Republicans have expressed their condemnation. Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush called Mr Trump “unhinged” while Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said his comments were contrary to American values.
A petition calling for Mr Trump to be barred from entering the UK has gathered more than 250,000 names, so MPs will have to consider debating the issue.
“They don’t know what they’re getting into,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter about the petition.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he regards comments made by Mr Trump as “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong”.
Mr Trump also claimed that parts of London were “so radicalised the police are afraid for their lives”.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson responded by saying the “ill-informed comments are complete and utter nonsense”.