Donald Trump told Savannah Guthrie he's "never had a problem with Muslims," and reiterated his belief that it's not his "obligation" to defend President Obama's faith and citizenship.
"Why should I come to the defense of the president? He's not going to come to my defense and I think most people agreed with what I did," said the leading Republican presidential hopeful in an interview on TODAY Monday.
Trump has been dogged recently by his failure to correct a campaign supporter last week who incorrectly called President Obama both a Muslim and "not an American" citizen.
The incident reminded many of Trump's role in fueling the "birther" movement during the 2012 presidential race, when Obama critics questioned whether he was born in the United States and therefore eligible to be president. The president later provided a copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate but it did not quell doubters, including Trump.
A new CNN/ORC poll shows Trump's ratings, while still ahead of more than a dozen Republican candidates, taking its biggest drop so far in the campaign. It also shows rival Carly Fiorina surging to second, in large part because of her strong performance during Wednesday's debate, where she repeatedly took on Trump on various topics.