Washington: Donald Trump on Friday stuck to his controversial remarks of "Islam hates us", drawing flak from his Republican rivals as they engaged in a show of civility in their latest face-off, with one of them warning the presidential frontrunner of consequences of such statements.
Trump clarified that not all Muslims fall into this category but said he means "a lot of them".
"I mean a lot of them. I mean a lot of them," Trump said when asked if he meant all 1.6 billion Muslims when he said "Islam hates us".
"I've been watching the debate today. They're talking about radical Islamic terrorism or radical Islam. There's something going on that maybe you don't know about, maybe a lot of other people don't know about, but there's tremendous hatred."
"And I will stick with exactly what I said," Trump said.
"In large mosques, all over the Middle East, you have people chanting `death to the USA`. Now, that does not sound like a friendly act to me," Trump said in response to a question at the last Republican presidential debate in Miami, Florida - which goes for primary elections on Tuesday.
The exchange, though charged up, remained mostly respectful - in stark contrast to the no holds barred face-off that it had become in the past few days.
Trump's bitter presidential rival Senator Marco Rubio warned about consequences of such a controversial statement.
"I know that a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says because he says what people wish they could say. The problem is, presidents can't just say anything they want. It has consequences, here and around the world," he said.
The US already has had consequences of airplanes flying into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and could have been the White House, Rubio added.
"There have been a lot of problems. Now you can say what you want, and you can be politically correct if you want. I don't want to be so politically correct. I like to solve problems. We have a serious, serious problem of hate," he said.
Rubio said two days ago he met a couple who were on furlough because they are missionaries in Bangladesh.
"It's a very tough place to be a missionary. It's Muslim. And their safety and security very much relies upon friendly Muslims that live along side them, that may not convert, but protect them and certainly look out for them."
"And their mission field really are Muslims that are looking to convert to Christianity as well," he said.
"They tell me that today they have a very hostile environment in which to operate in because the news is coming out that in America, leading political figures are saying that America doesn't like Muslims. So this is a real impact. There's no doubt that radical Islam is a danger in the world," Rubio said.
According to Rubio, Islam has a major problem on its hands.
"It has a significant percentage of its adherents, particular in the Sunni faith but also in the Shia, who have been radicalised," he said.
"There is no doubt about that. It is also true if you look around the world at the challenges we face, we are going to have to work together with other -- with Muslims, who do not -- who are not radicals," he said.
Ohio Governor John Kasich said "radical Islam that is really, really serious, and poses the greatest threat to the US" today.
"There isn't any question. That's why the whole world has to work together to make sure that we don't have proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Senator Ted Cruz, who is the only one having defeated Trump in more than half a dozen States, said focus needs to be on keeping the country safe.
Trump said Ben Carson - the retired neurosurgeon and onetime Republican presidential candidate who once mocked him - is set to endorse him, in fresh boost to the aspirations of the tycoon for the top American post.
69-year-old Trump has stoked yet another controversy when he said he thinks "Islam hates us" and asserted that those having hatred against the US cannot be allowed to enter the country.
He made headlines in December when he called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."