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Ben Carson Under Fire Over Muslim Comments; New CNN Poll: Hillary Clinton Bouncing Back; Two American Hostages Freed in Yemen; Emmy Awards: A Night of Firsts, High Drama. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 21, 2015 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.

[05:58:39] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have extremist Muslims that are in a class by themselves.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You judge candidates, not on the religion, not on the color of their skin.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: A brand-new CNN poll. Carly Fiorina leaping to second place.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You wanted her to talk in every conversation.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A 45-minute meeting with Fidel Castro that was described as informal and friendly.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We're hearing, "Il papa viene," "the pope is coming."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's someone who's saying we have to reform ourselves first.

ANDY SAMBERG, COMEDIAN, HOST OF 67TH EMMY AWARDS: Welcome to the 67th Emmy Awards.

TRACY MORGAN, COMEDIAN: I missed you guys so much.

VIOLA DAVIS, ACTRESS: The only thing that separates women of color is opportunity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the Emmy goes to...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Alisyn Camerota and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Monday, September 21, 6 a.m. in the east. Muslims should not be president. And we may have a Muslim president already. Wacky words coming from the men atop the GOP race for president.

Ben Carson saying he couldn't support a Muslim for president Sunday. This morning, a national Muslim civil liberties group is calling for Carson to withdraw from the race because of those words. The firestorm comes as Donald Trump says he wasn't obligated to correct a man who called President Obama a Muslim.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And what a difference a debate makes. Carly Fiorina catapulting to second place after the CNN debate, while Trump loses some support. And there's a new -- there are new Democratic polls out this morning, as well, that show Hillary Clinton bouncing back.

So let's begin our team coverage with Athena Jones. She is live in Washington.

Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

Carson's comments have angered a lot of people, and so did Trump's refusal to correct that man who called the president a Muslim and advocated getting rid of Muslims.

The question now is whether these comments will hurt either of these candidates in the polls. This as yet another outsider candidate is surging.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARSON: I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.

JONES (voice-over): This shocking statement by Dr. Ben Carson under a spotlight this morning in the Republican presidential race.

On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, Carson said a Muslim president should not be in the Oval Office and that a president's faith should matter to voters.

CARSON: If it's inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course, it should matter.

JONES: Later, when Donald Trump was asked about the possibility of a Muslim president, he said...

TRUMP (via phone): Some people have said it already happened.

JONES: A reference to President Barack Obama. Trump later adding...

TRUMP: He said he was a Christian, and he said he is a Christian. You know, I'm willing to take him at his word for that.

JONES: But Carson is doubling down on his controversial comments. In an interview with a Washington newspaper "The Hill," he said, quote, "Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life, and that is inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution."

Democrats were quick to pounce.

SANDERS: You judge candidates for president not on their religion, not on the color of their skin, but on their ideas on what they stand for.

JONES: This as the latest CNN/ORC poll shows Trump and Carson losing momentum with voters after the CNN debate. Trump still the frontrunner but his lead slipping as Carly Fiorina makes the biggest jump, rising 12 percentage points.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How many of you saw the debate on Wednesday night?

JONES: Over half of poll respondents who watched CNN's debate think Fiorina did the best job, Florida Senator Marco Rubio taking home second place, far better than his former mentor, Jeb Bush.

TRUMP: I think Carly had a good night, but I think you gave her a lot of very easy questions.

JONES: Trump now zeroing in on the post-debate star, attacking Fiorina's record as CEO once again Sunday, tweeting, "She did such a horrible jot at Lucent and H.P., she never got another CEO job offer." The GOP frontrunner writing, "There is no way that Carly Fiorina can become the Republican nominee."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: So Trump taking aim at Fiorina.

Now later this morning, a Muslim civil rights group will hold a press conference to demand that Carson withdraw from the presidential race. So we'll be watching for that.

Meanwhile, a Muslim member of Congress is weighing in, saying every American should be disturbed that Carson and Trump are engaging in and tolerating blatant acts of religious bigotry -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Those comments stirring a lot of people to sound off. All right. Athena, thank you so much.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, a new CNN/ORC poll out this morning shows Hillary Clinton bouncing back. After months of declines, the former secretary of state opening a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders among Democratic voters, a lead that widens dramatically if President Biden -- Vice President Biden decides not to run.

Senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny has that part of the story for us on this Monday.

Hi, Jeff. JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good

morning, Michaela.

Hillary Clinton's summertime slide appears to be stabilizing. Our new polls show she's gaining ground among Democrats. It's perhaps a sign of her new approach of answering questions after being walled off for months is starting to pay off.

But her strength of her candidacy depends to a large degree whether Joe Biden jumps in. Let's take a look at these new numbers.

Clinton sits atop the Democratic field at 42 percent, followed by Bernie Sanders at 24 percent and Joe Biden at 22 percent.

But like you said, when you take Biden out of the equation, her support soars. She wins 57 percent in our new poll. Sanders has only 28 percent. Now, this is up from one month ago. So Joe Biden does take votes away from her. They, of course, share the same type of Democratic voters.

Now, he is still deciding whether to run, but there are signs he is leaning towards saying yes. Most Democrats believe he'll jump in, if he's going to, within the next two weeks or so.

But this morning, there's new word out that his wife, Jill Biden, is in if her husband is. Her spokesman telling CNN, "Of course Dr. Biden would be on board if her husband decides to run for president. But they haven't made that decision yet."

In an interview on Sunday, Hillary Clinton says she isn't making any changes in her campaign in preparation for a possible Biden run, saying he deserves space to make that decision.

But this new poll shows her race will be affected dramatically by any decision he makes.

For now, of course, she's focusing on the strength -- or she's trying to strengthen her own candidacy. But an interesting interview on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. She showed what it's like to be the real Hillary Clinton, or at least she tried to. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[06:05:08] HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am a real person with all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that. And I've been in the public eye for so long that I think, you know, it's like feature that you see in some magazine sometimes: real people actually go shopping. You know?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: But all joking aside, that is actually her burden, to appear authentic to voters in a year where they're craving authenticity more than ever -- Chris and Alisyn.

CUOMO: Real authenticity. Jeff, stick with us, and let's bring in political reporter Zeke

Miller; and CNN political commentator and political anchor of New York One, Errol Louis.

And Mr. Zeleny, while I have you crunching all the numbers here, the big takeaway, Jeff, is that if Biden is not in the race, not only is she up huge on Bernie but actually bigger than she was over Senator Sanders before.

This does not come as a surprise to her campaign, as you know. But what does it mean for the state of that race?

ZELENY: It means for the state of the race that she's in command of this race without question.

There are definitely some liberals, some progressive Democrats who don't pick her first. They still like what Bernie Sanders is saying. But the reality is, she is driving this -- this contest six in ten Democrats, almost six in ten Democrats say they would support her with Joe Biden not in.

So that is why this decision about if Biden is in or is not is really influencing what's happening in Brooklyn. She says they're not making plans either way. I'm not sure I believe that, Chris. They are definitely wondering if he's in. Because if he is in, he's directly in her lane of support. Of course, she still is stronger than Biden, but that would shake things up dramatically.

CAMEROTA: Errol, before we get to all -- everything that happened over the weekend with Donald Trump and Ben Carson, is this -- is Hillary Clinton's mini-surge here because of her late-night appearances? Is that directly connected to her, you know, seeming more popular?

LOUIS: Yes. You can't -- you have to assume that she wasn't doing this just for fun. That she's made a number of appearances, she's been more responsive. She's been more visible. She hasn't taken pains to sort of push people away.

And yes, it pays off. People like to see you talk, and frankly, her appearances have been better. Her responses are crisper when she's not sort of on the defensive talking about those emails, which always gets her bogged down, because there are legal questions lurking in the background, she's much more forthcoming and she's more like a candidate. You act like a candidate, the voters respond.

CUOMO: She's not just a real person. She's being a real candidate in talking to all the media and doing what they all do.

Zeke, what happened over the weekend? I go to Cuba, and it becomes crazy time. What is going on with Ben Carson saying Muslims can't be president because they put their faith as too big a part of public life? And what Donald Trump is saying about some say we may have a Muslim already. What's going on here?

ZEKE MILLER, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": Well, they obviously got the question, because Donald Trump didn't respond to that question on that event Thursday night in his town hall in New Hampshire. They get the question on "Meet the Press" yesterday, and both of them flub it. Ben Carson saying that he wouldn't accept a Muslim as president. And that could be he honestly believes it.

CUOMO: I don't think that's a flub. It's not a flub when you say what you think. It just seems to have a huge dose of hypocrisy attached to it, not only intolerance, because to say Muslims put their faith too much as public life; and that's offensive to our Constitution. Aren't we seeing that right now with so many Christian politicians with Kim Davis?

MILLER: Absolutely. And we saw Donald Trump hold up a Bible the other day on Saturday at an Iowa Faith and Freedom event, saying that he's a Christian. I mean, so you can't have it both ways, except if you're trying to win the evangelical Christian vote, which is exactly what Ben Carson and, to a certain extent, Donald Trump are now trying to do. They want to see, you know, only Christian -- the evangelical faith displayed publicly. That's a lot of how the vote, particularly in Iowa, is decided.

So that's what they're going for. And that's why they said what they did. And the backlash, in a lot of ways, will only help them with that -- with that segment of voters.

CAMEROTA: Errol, just remind people what Ben Carson said. I'll just read it to you. He said that he would, quote, "absolutely not agree with having a Muslim president" and does not think Islam is consistent with the Constitution. What's he talking about?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he's completely wrong. People should go Google Article VI of the United States Constitution.

CAMEROTA: Which says there's no religious test...

LOUIS: For any public office.

CAMEROTA: ... for any public office.

LOUIS: For any public office. And I think what Ben Carson is going to discover, Donald Trump maybe to a lesser extent, because they're not politicians. They've made sort of their brand to be, "Oh, I go against the rules. I'm not a conventional politician."

CAMEROTA: "I speak my mind."

LOUIS: There are certain rules that you can break and certain rules you can't break. One of them is the Constitution. So when Donald Trump says the 14th amendment, you know, maybe it's just wrong; or Ben Carson makes this outrageous comment, which is completely contrary to the Constitution, I think they'll find that there are people who really will sort of look at that and say, there are some rules you really don't break. And if you're willing to do that, maybe you're not kind of person who should be leading this country. CUOMO: So we just saw them take a hit in the polls, both of

them, which we believe is because of the debate. It was no surprise. We were suggesting the debate would change the race. We were suggesting after the debate that Carly Fiorina would get a bump. All that happened. And her time will come. She's got a lot of vetting questions coming her way also.

[06:10:03] But Zeke, do you think that this has -- this will really make a significant difference in the political fates of both of these men?

MILLER: I mean, these comments are not going to decide their trajectories one way or the other. The voters who like Donald Trump, who like Ben Carson, liked what they said, liked what they heard, largely. Not all of them, but a lot of them did. And the backlash, the controversy, the fact that we're discussing this right now, will only make them victims in the eyes of many of their supporters that, you know, they don't sound like traditional politicians.

You'll never hear a traditional politician say what either of them said yesterday. And to their supporters, one way or the other, that's more compelling than the substance. It's the style that they care about. That's why they're drawn to these candidates, and that might only help them.

That said, you know, they obviously took the hit after the debate. And, you know, the question is you have Carly Fiorina, who's in the race also, and filling that same outsider lane, who could gather some of that support without the same controversy.

CAMEROTA: So Jeff, you know, over the weekend, there were Muslim civil rights groups that have called for Ben Carson to get out of the race. Obviously, that's not happening. But over the weekend, has he tried to sort of modulate some of those statements and walk it back?

ZELENY: Not modulating it as much. I mean, and Zeke is right. Among his supporters, they will be sort of viewing all of this as, you know, the mainstream media is piling on him.

But I think it shows a lack of a grasp of -- of an ability to increase their level of support. This is maybe not going to hurt Ben Carson and Donald Trump in the short term. But if they plan to -- or if they hope to grow their support to others sort of outside their immediate lane, this is going to block that.

No one likes the sound of this -- of this kind of rhetoric over the weekend. It certainly is not helpful for the Republican Party overall.

And I think they both win the hypocrisy award. I mean, we give that award out a lot or we could. But I mean, gosh, they are pandering to their evangelical supporters without question here. And I just don't think that plays well in the long term.

CUOMO: Right. And you know, we're being delicate a little bit about how we're doing it. We're being forensic about it. You know, it plays to the base, you know. There's a line of decency. There is a -- everybody wants to make you a little afraid of a situation when they want to be the one you ask to change it.

But to say that Muslims shouldn't be in charge of the country, I can't think of anything as inflammatory on that level from a man who wants to be respected as a man of faith, leave faith alone. Let's not talk about it. You know, how do you justify this?

LOUIS: For many people it is going to be a disqualifier. I mean, and what happens is, yes, they get their base riled up and so forth. But then there becomes just kind of an absolute sort of ceiling, an absolute limit. And it becomes a legitimate, and I would argue, required question for journalists to ask.

You said something that directly contradicts the Constitution. You said something that is, any way you look at it, about bias and bigotry. Please explain what you meant by that.

CUOMO: He'll run around that, though, Errol. He'll say, "I'm not saying he should be automatically disqualified. I know what Article VI is. I have it hanging on my wall. But it's that I wouldn't support them. I think that their faith is inconsistent. That's just my opinion. It's just my opinion. I'm not saying disqualify them. I'm just saying that they're inherently vicious."

LOUIS: If he says that enough times, I think you'll find people, even among very conservative Republicans, will say, "You know what? That's a step too far. That's just not somebody who can run this country." And I think the numbers will start to reflect that. So, you know, it will work with the base. But it puts, I think, an absolute sharp limit on how far he can expand it.

CAMEROTA: And we'll be speaking to his spokesperson momentarily. So stick around for that for Ben Carson's. Zeke, Errol, Jeff, thanks so much -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right.

Other news here: two American hostages held for months by Houthi rebels in Yemen are now free. The fate of another American still being held is unknown at this time. We're going to turn right now to CNN's senior international Nick Paton Wash [SIC] -- Nick Paton Walsh, live in Beirut with the latest for us. These two men free now.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. But there was an agonizing moment yesterday afternoon when it appeared, of course, that three Americans were, in fact, on that plane from the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, to neighboring Oman's capital, Muscat. That turned out not to be the case. One of those three Americans still held by the Houthis. Little released about his information for his own safety.

But Scott Darden and Sam Farran, who were there, respectfully, as logistics and security, officials in that town assisting the expat community there. They are now back with their loved ones. This release, it seems, engineered by the White House with the

assistance of Omani officials and, of course, the Houthis, who are engaged in a lengthy war, in which they're fighting a Saudi-led coalition inside Yemen. That's the crux of the civil war there.

But there's a diplomat in Yemen telling me this release was, in fact, aimed as a political goodwill gesture, aimed at perhaps trying to reignite peace talks. The Americans are backing the Saudis here. So clearly a bit, perhaps, to show that they're serious about trying to improve relations. The Houthi delegation was on board that plane.

[06:15:02] But while one family in the U.S. disappointed, two others at this stage now rejoicing at the final release of their loved ones.

Back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Nick. Thanks so much for all that.

Meanwhile, dozens of ISIS defectors airing their disillusionment with the terrorist group. A research organization in London that tracks radicals says 58 former ISIS members have taken the very unusual risk of publicly criticizing the extremist group, many of them saying that they disapprove of the indiscriminate killing of hostages and civilians. And they don't like the hostility towards other Sunni rebel groups that oppose the Assad regime in Syria.

CUOMO: Papa Francisco continues his trip in Cuba this morning. He's set to lead a mass, then fly to Santiago for a meeting with bishops.

Now, on Sunday, the pontiff met with former leader Fidel Castro. There's the big picture, the meeting everybody was speculating on. About half an hour. They didn't talk about anything serious. It was the meeting with Fidel Castro. It was familiar and congenial. They exchanged gifts. And there was a much different tone with the relationship between the pope and Raul Castro, who said he's taking what the pope says very seriously. And he may even return to prayer again.

PEREIRA: All right. We'll have more on that coming up.

Also, a big event over the weekend out west and a ceremony with lots of feel-good moments. The 67th Annual Emmy Awards saved the best for last. Overall, an epic night for HBO. And a good night, well, make that a great night for women.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Viola Davis. "How to Get Away with Murder."

PEREIRA (voice-over): Viola Davis making history last night...

DAVIS: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. PEREIRA: ... becoming the first African-American woman to win an

Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a drama series, grabbing an Emmy for her performance in "How to Get Away with Murder."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the first Emmy win and 16th nomination for Jon Hamm.

PEREIRA: Another first, Jon Hamm, finally scooping up an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama for his iconic role as the tortured Don Draper on "Mad Men" after seven previous losses.

JON HAMM, ACTOR: It's been a terrible mistake, clearly.

PEREIRA: HBO dominating with a whopping 43 victories. Their fantasy series, "Game of Thrones," being crowned Best Drama, the show's first win, beating out "Mad Men" and shattering an academy record, defeating "The West Wing" by winning more Emmys in a single year than any other series.

HBO's "Veep" also grabbing Best Comedy and "Olive Kitteridge" leading the Limited Series category.

MORGAN: I missed you guys so much.

PEREIRA: Surprising everyone, Tracy Morgan, marking his return by presenting Best Drama, his first time back on stage since that serious car accident last year that left him in a coma for eight days.

Morgan's fellow "Saturday Night Live" alum Andy Samberg rounding out another night of firsts, hosting the show for the first time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PEREIRA: So good to see Tracy Morgan. Boy, he's a sight for sore eyes.

CAMEROTA: That was a surprise to all of the audience.

PEREIRA: Lots of great moments. We'll be talking more about it with Brian Stelter and Nischelle Turner, both of them, I'm sure, a little bleary-eyed, coming from the show.

CAMEROTA: I love Andy Samberg.

CUOMO: He was very funny.

CAMEROTA: Great.

PEREIRA: Very, very funny. Got some good zingers in about the 2016 presidential race, too.

CAMEROTA: We'll have a lot more of that.

Meanwhile, another candidate in hot water. This time, of course, it's Ben Carson for his comments about Muslims. His campaign now responding to all the criticism. We'll he apologize? Will he walk it back? His spokesperson is here next on NEW DAY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[06:23:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?

CARSON: No, I don't. I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Well, that was Dr. Ben Carson stirring up a lot of controversy this weekend, saying that Islam is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution and that the U.S. president should not be Muslim.

To explain, let's bring in Armstrong Williams. He's Ben Carson's business manager and a conservative radio talk show host.

Armstrong, thanks so much for being here. What was Dr. Carson thinking when he was saying that a Muslim cannot be president of the U.S.?

ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, BUSINESS MANAGER FOR BEN CARSON: He's speaking like someone who loves America first, who wants to protect America. He understands that there are tenets of Islam that hates Jews, will kill homosexuals, will kill Muslims, do not advocate the belief and value systems that made America into the country that it is today.

CAMEROTA: Armstrong...

WILLIAMS: It may have been an inconvenient truth, but it is the truth.

CAMEROTA: Armstrong, you're talking about an extremist radical strain, not the strain that millions of American Muslims practice here in this country. You know, there are more American-Muslims than there are Episcopalians. You're talking about a radical strain.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Carson was asked his opinion. His opinion was the timing, at this point, he would not vote for a Muslim in the White House. This is why he's not a politician. This is why he's not trying to be politically correct. This is America. It's a place of freedom of speech.

CAMEROTA: And freedom of religion.

WILLIAMS: You express what you believe and how you feel.

CAMEROTA: And freedom of religion.

WILLIAMS: It is not an issue -- it is not an issue of religion to Dr. Carson. This is an issue of one's belief system, how they will govern. Your beliefs, what you believe in, how you look upon people, how you value people is dictated by what you believe.

[06:25:14] CAMEROTA: Uh-huh. Armstrong, led me read to you Article VI of the Constitution, which says that anyone of any religion can serve in public office. Here it is: "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Dr. Carson's belief system violates that part of the Constitution.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Carson, Alisyn, as you're alluding to, was not speaking about religion, not at all. His, like most Americans, in their hearts if they search themselves and they ask questions, if you see what's going on in the world today and what we're becoming as a nation, if you search yourself deeply and ask yourself, at this time, in the history of our country, in the question that was posed to him, which he asked and answered truthfully, is that he would not be comfortable with someone who shares the Islamic Muslim faith in the White House.

CAMEROTA: Is Dr. Carson...

WILLIAMS: Dr. Carson, because -- let me finish. If Dr. Carson, because of his love for America, he is willing. Everything is not about winning the White House for him. It's about standing up for what he believes in, telling the truth, even if it makes CNN and others uncomfortable. It is what he believes.

CAMEROTA: Is Dr. Carson comfortable with anyone other than a Christian being president?

WILLIAMS: It is not about Christian. It is not about Jew. It is not about religion. It is about what one believes and what they will advocate if they become president of these United States, a place that you and I, I have no doubt about it, love and cherish and wants to protect. And Dr. Carson is saying what he believes and he believes it, Alisyn. And he will not take it back.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Carson is talking about religion, Armstrong. He says it here. Let me read you his own words: "Muslims feel that their religion is very much part of your public life and what you do as a public official; and that's inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution."

What is so striking about this, Armstrong, is that Dr. Carson also believes that his religion is very much a part of his public life. Look at all of the outcry over the Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who was putting her religion over the law of the land in terms of gay marriage licenses. And he and others supported her. He does think this is about religion, and he does think that sometimes religion can trump the law, as we've seen.

WILLIAMS: And Alisyn, that is unequivocally untrue. Dr. Carson has made it clear, even with the situation in Kentucky, that this is a nation about the rule of law. And that he embraced and supported the Supreme Court ruling. He may have thought that they may -- should have shown more passion instead of putting her in jail. But absolutely, we are a nation of rule of laws, and Dr. Carson's religion would never get in the way of upholding the rule of law of this land.

However, he is very clear on that, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Muslim civil rights groups have called for him to get out of the race. Obviously, that's not happening. But will he sit down with Muslims today to clarify how he feels about them?

WILLIAMS: Only, Alisyn, you and others feel that there's something to clarify. You don't need to clarify what you believe in. It is consistent. It is -- it is who you are. You believe in America. You love this country. You see what's happening in Europe. You see what is happening in the Middle East and in the world. You see what's happening on our military bases, where people use their faith to shoot our innocent men and women who put their lives on the front line. What is happening to America?

If Dr. Carson is the voice that's willing to stand and speak for those Americans who are solid in their hearts, who don't want to speak this inconvenient truth, then let it be. Let the chips fall where they may. He believes in telling the truth. You may not like the truth, but it is the truth. And when you tell the truth, Alisyn, there is nothing to apologize for.

CAMEROTA: There you go. Armstrong Williams, we really appreciate you coming on and speaking for Dr. Carson this morning. Nice to see you. Thanks so much. Let us know what you think about this.

WILLIAMS: Good seeing you.

CAMEROTA: You, too. You can find me on Twitter, @AlisynCamerota -- Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn, in no small irony, a man whose life is all about religion is giving a very different message to people in Cuba and when he comes here to the United States is expected to do the same. This man, Pope Francis, is talking about tolerance and acceptance of different faiths and different people.

He's coming to Washington, D.C. He's going to be the first pope to address Congress. What's he going to tell those men and women down there? And why is one congressman threatening to boycott the speech already?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)