New York: Donald Trump's hardline stance on immigration after two bombings in the New York area again sparked debate on the White House campaign trail on Wednesday, as his son sparked a firestorm by comparing Syrian refugees to lethal candies.
The Republican presidential hopeful's uncompromising position on illegal migrants — even calling them a dangerous "Trojan horse" who enter the country with the aim of doing harm — is inextricably linked with his meteoric political rise.
Most Republicans approve of his tough talk, with polls showing that a majority of party members agreed with his call last December to bar Muslims from entering the United States.
Since then, Trump has refrained from specifically targeting Muslims, but he has championed police profiling of suspects and promised to bar immigrants and travellers from certain countries deemed dangerous, like Syria.
The candidate has repeatedly warned of the risks posed by Syrian refugees, citing the arrival in Europe of Islamic State operatives disguised as simple refugees, and says US immigration officials are not properly screening new arrivals.
But immigration is nevertheless not one of the major issues on the minds of voters, placing only fourth according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, making it unclear if Trump, 70, can use it to persuade those who are still undecided.
But national security and the anti-terror fight are number two on that list, and with less than 50 days to go before Election Day on 8 November, Trump is attempting to blur the lines between the two issues.
"This is a question of qualify of life," Trump told a rally in key swing state Florida on Tuesday. "We want to make sure we are only admitting people in our country who love our country."
Trump's son Donald Jr, one of his surrogates on the campaign trail, has meanwhile courted controversy with a tweet comparing Syrian refugees to a bowl of multi-colored Skittles candy — some of them lethal, but not to the naked eye.
"This image says it all," he said on Twitter, with a picture of a white bowl filled with the popular sweets. Read Firstpost'sanalysis on the tweet here.
Written above the image is: "If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That's our Syria refugee problem."
Trump Jr thus argued that it is too dangerous to welcome migrants when a tiny number of them could later launch attacks. The man accused of planting bombs in both downtown Manhattan and near a race in New Jersey is a naturalized American of Afghan descent.
At his rallies, Trump Sr has repeatedly recited the lyrics to a 1960s song, "The Snake," which recounts how a woman who aided an injured snake ended up being bitten, and used the Trojan Horse imagery to warn of hidden dangers.
"We cannot let this evil continue. Cannot do it," he said on Tuesday.