'I love the Muslims': Donald Trump responds to backlash over anti-Muslim statements by supporter
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

A controversy over Donald Trump's refusal to shut down a supporter who made racist comments about Muslims and President Obama this week continues to plague the GOP presidential hopeful, CNN reports.

Earlier this week, a man at a New Hampshire townhall made the troubling statement that, "We have a problem in this country called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American... When can we get rid of them?"

Facing criticism for failing to address the inaccuracies and racism in the man's statement, Trump responded to CNN's query on Saturday about whether he thinks Muslims pose a threat to the United States by saying "I love the Muslims. I think they're great people."

Trump had been a vocal proponent of the "birther" movement, a conservative conspiracy theory that Obama is not an American citizen. The theory has been debunked and Obama is not a Muslim, but Iowa students wanted to know why being Muslim is a problem, CNN reports.

Trump has been avoiding the media since the fracas over the incident, but he couldn't avoid the issue Saturday when he spoke to high school students at an event. One girl said she thought Muslims make up an important segment of this country.

When asked by the girl whether he would consider putting Muslim in his cabinet if he were elected, Trump responded, "Oh, absolutely. No problem with that."