NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam said today he still isn't ready to endorse Donald Trump despite his and other GOP governors' meeting in New York with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
And the governor also said in response to reporters' questions that he takes issue with Trump's comments about Muslims and the expected nominee's renewal of a call for a temporary ban on their entry into the U.S. in the wake of the Sunday's shootings at an Orlando gay night club that left 49 people dead and another 53 wounded.
"Do I disagree that we need to ban all Muslims from entering the country? Yes, I disagree with that strongly."
Haslam, who backed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's unsuccessful GOP primary bid, said the issue of an endorsement did not surface in his and five other GOP governor's Tuesday meeting with Trump in the billionaire businessman's Trump Tower offices in Manhattan.
"To be honest we never even talked about it," Haslam said when asked whether he is now endorsing Trump. "He asked me what I think will happen in Tennessee and I said I think you'll win. And then the conversation moved on and we ended up talking about a lot of other things."
Haslam said governors largely focused on issues of importance to states in areas from education to health care. With six governors and Trump himself, there wasn't much opportunity to delve into great detail, Haslam noted.
Haslam also said he did not ask Trump about the candidate's remarks about Muslims following the Sunday deadly assault on an Orlando gay nightclub.
Trump this week doubled down on his previous comments to temporarily ban non U.S-born Muslims from entering the country. Gunman Omar Mateen was a U.S-born Muslim. Trump also has suggested that moderate Muslims and possible Democratic President Barack Obama himself might sympathize with radical elements.
Haslam also said he agrees with U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who earlier this week said of Trump that "I continue to be discouraged by the direction of the campaign and comments that are made."
"I've said all along that words matter and I think Bob agrees with me on that," Haslam told reporters prior to a ceremony honoring businesses and local governments for their environmental activities.