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The most outrageous ideas of the 2016 US Republican primaries

Robyn Beck, AFP | Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump (pictured left), Ben Carson (centre) and Chris Christie talk during a break at the CNBC Republican debate on October 28, 2015

Donald Trump may be the best known candidate for making inflammatory remarks in the 2016 US Republican primaries but he hasn’t been the only one brandishing highly contentious ideas.

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Since declaring his intention to run for the White House on June 16, Trump has grabbed headlines with one provocative comment after the other, kicking off his candidacy with a speech describing Mexican immigrants as “rapists”.

The 69-year-old real estate mogul also promised to build a massive wall along the United States’ nearly 2,000-mile-long (around 3,200 kilometres) border with Mexico, a project that he said he would get the Mexican government to fund.

More recently, he said he was open to the idea of creating a national database to keep track of all Muslims in the United States, a position he has since tried to distance himself from.

But Trump appeared to surpass himself on Monday when he called for Muslims to be temporarily barred entry to the United States in response to last week’s deadly shooting in San Bernardino, which is being treated as an “act of terrorism”.

The Republican frontrunner's remarks sparked international condemnation, while White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the proposal “disqualifies him from serving as president”.

Yet Trump is not the only Republican presidential candidate to have shocked or caused offense. Here’s a look at some of the other outrageous ideas to have surfaced during the primaries so far:

Chris Christie, FedEx and illegal immigration

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made arguably one of the strangest proposals back in August when he said that visitors to the United States should be tracked like FedEx packages in order to prevent illegal immigration.

“You go online and at any moment FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane,” Christie said at an event in New Hampshire. “Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.”

“So here’s what I’m going to do as president, I’m going to ask Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, to come work for the government for three months. Just come for three months to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and show these people,” he said, claiming that 40 percent of illegal immigrants had entered the country with a visa.

“We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in,” Christie added. “However long your visa is, then we go get you. We tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Excuse me. Thanks for coming, time to go.’”

Ted Cruz and Syrian refugees

The day after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called on the United States to only allow Syrian Christian refugees into the country – tearing a page directly out of Trump’s playbook.

“President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s idea that we should bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America is nothing less than lunacy,” he said on FOX news.

“On the other hand,” he added, “Christians who are being targeted for genocide, for persecution, Christians who are being beheaded or crucified, we should be providing safe haven to them. But President Obama refuses to do that.”

Cruz’s comments, which were echoed by other Republican candidates, were later slammed by President Barack Obama as “shameful”.

“When I hear folks say that, well maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war torn country is admitted, when some of the those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” Obama said. “That’s not America. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

Ben Carson and arming teachers

While Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, has no shortage of ideas (including eliminating the IRS), one of the most extreme to date has been his suggestion to arm school staff, including kindergarten teachers, to prevent more school shootings.

“If I had a little kid in kindergarten somewhere. I would feel much more comfortable if I knew on that campus there was a police officer or somebody who was trained with a weapon,” Carson said in an interview with USA Today just days after nine people were killed at a community college in Oregon on October 1. “If the teacher was trained in the use of that weapon and had access to it, I would be much more comfortable if they had one than if they didn’t.”

Carson’s position on gun violence, however, was probably best summed up in his recent book “A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties”, in which he argues against gun control by inferring that the Holocaust never would have happened if ordinary German citizens had been armed.

“German citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930s, and by the mid-1940s Hitler’s regime had mercilessly slaughtered six million Jews and numerous others whom they considered inferior,” Carson wrote. “Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.”

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