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NOT BACKING DOWN—In this Sept. 18, photo, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks in Greenville, S.C. Carson is refusing to back off his weekend charge that Muslims shouldn’t serve in the presidency. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro, File)

NOT BACKING DOWN—In this Sept. 18, photo, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks in Greenville, S.C. Carson is refusing to back off his weekend charge that Muslims shouldn’t serve in the presidency. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro, File)

WASHINGTON (AP)—Republican White House contender Ben Carson is refusing to back off his weekend charge that Muslims shouldn’t serve in the presidency.

The political fallout is a distraction at least as the retired neurosurgeon tries to capitalize on recent momentum in the GOP’s 2016 primary election. But it also highlights a sentiment among voters in both parties who agree with Carson’s reluctance to elect a Muslim to the nation’s highest office.

Carson told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” His campaign reported strong fundraising and more than 100,000 new Facebook friends a day later.

Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett says, “Republican primary voters are with us at least 80-20.”

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