Trump goes after Carson

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Donald Trump on the Attack Amid Rising Poll Numbers for Ben Carson

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is taking aim at candidate Ben Carson, setting the stage for a confrontation between the two GOP rivals at the party's next presidential debate scheduled for Wednesday.

What apparently triggered Trump's latest broadside was Carson's surging into the lead in Iowa, which will be the first state to select presidential delegates next year.

Carson also has moved past Trump in Iowa surveys of Christian conservatives, who play a key role in politics in that state. This appears to have prompted Trump to make an issue of Carson's religion.

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Trump told a rally in Jacksonville, Florida, that he is a Presbyterian, a faith he called "down the middle of the road." Then he mentioned Carson's religion by saying, "I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."

In an interview with ABC Sunday, Trump refused to apologize for raising uncertainty about Carson's faith. "I just said I don't know about it," Trump argued. "I said nothing about it. I would never say bad. I'd never say bad about any religion."

Trump also criticized Carson for having a "super low" energy level and expressed surprise that Carson has overtaken him in Iowa. The billionaire real-estate developer added, "I don't know what's going on."

The latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll found that Carson leads Trump by 9 percentage points in Iowa, 28 percent to 19 percent, after a period of many weeks during which Trump held first place.

Carson responded in an interview with NBC by expressing surprise that Trump would bring up his religion, but adding that he wouldn't descend into "the mud pit" with Trump.

Carson also said, "My energy levels are perfectly fine." The retired neurosurgeon noted that he has spent many hours in surgery, which "doesn't require a lot of jumping up and down and screaming, but it does require a lot of concentration."

Click through to read the 10 Ben Carson facts you should know:

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Ben Carson facts you should know
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Trump goes after Carson

1. He is a weekly opinion columnist for The Washington Times.

(Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

2. He is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and his father was a minister.

(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

3. He was raised in Detroit by a single mother, alongside is older brother Curtis.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

4. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States.

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

5. He was the first doctor to successfully separate occipital craniopagus twins in 1987.

(AP Photo/Fred Kraft)

6. He has written six bestselling books, all by an international Christian media and publishing company.

(AP Photo/Brian Witte)

7. He has criticized “political correctness” because he says it goes against freedom of expression, and became known for this idea when he was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013.

(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

8. There’s a Lifetime movie made about his life, with Cuba Gooding Jr. in the starring role.


(Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)

9. Before November of 2014 Carson was not a member of any political party.

(AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

10. He and his wife started a scholarship fund called "Carson scholars fund" in 1994 which has so far awarded 6,700 scholarships to kids for "academic excellence and humanitarian qualities."

(Photo by Louis Myrie/WireImage via Getty)

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