Washington: Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump defended himself against accusations of Islamophobia saying he has 'at least 20 Muslim' friends but failed to name even a single out of them.
Trump has repeatedly said that 'Muslims love him despite his provocative policies' but has so far failed to name any single individual Muslim supporter.
When he was asked 'who his Muslim backers were', Trump said, "Oh, I could give you about 20 of them."
Trump made this comments after coming off stage in Sunday's Republican debate in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The billionaire business mogul, after the shooting in San Bernadino, California, in which 14 people were killed in an attack by supporters of ISIS, had in past called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US and a database to track the movements of those already living there.
Trump's remarks had sparked an international backlash with business partners in Arab countries disowning him. In Dubai, a firm building a multi-billion dollar development in Dubai with Trump stripped his name and image from the property.
According to Pew's latest data, 57 per cent of Republicans believe that US anti-terrorism laws don't go far enough in protecting the nation, and just 30 per cent think they are going too far in restricting civil liberties. The percentage of Republicans who think the US does too little to solve the world's problems is up 28 percentage points, to 46 per cent.
Meanwhile, ahead of Tuesday's crucial primary in New Hampshire, Trump returned to the debate stage to assert that he has 'the best temperament' to be America's next commander in chief.
Trump, whose absence from the last Republican debate apparently pushed him to the second place in last week's Iowa caucuses, had a relatively good time as his rivals ganged up on newly resurgent Senator Marco Rubio.
And when Texas senator Ted Cruz who has been crowing about the real estate mogul's "Trumper Tantrums" since besting him in Iowa declined to repeat his attacks on the ABC News debate, Trump noted, "If you noticed, he didn't answer your question."
Marco Rubio, on the other hand, was seriously rattled by the attack from his rivals, particularly New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who painted him as someone who delivers soaring speeches but has never made a consequential decision in his political life.
Christie also slammed Rubio's poor attendance record in the Senate. "That's not leadership, that's truancy," Christie said.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, was booed during an exchange with Jeb Bush about eminent domain that allows a government or private entity to appropriate land or property in return for payment of compensation, when he asked the former Florida governor to be quiet.
The billionaire then turned on the audience, suggesting it was made up of party figures and big donors and was therefore biased against him -- and the booing escalated.
The tough talking Trump also got support on his stand on immigration from Cruz. "We're going to build a wall. We're going to triple the border patrol," he said. "We're going to increase -- and actually, since Donald enjoyed that, I will simply say, I've got somebody in mind to build it."
Trump also vowed to bring back the outlawed controversial practice of waterboarding euphemistically called as enhanced interrogation. "I would bring back waterboarding and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding," he declared.