Desperate Evangelical Leaders Turn to Trump
Given his emergence as the new face of the "Birther" movement, it comes as no surprise that Fox News has rewarded Donald Trump with a weekly slot on its morning show. (After all, with Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and now "Monday Mornings with Trump" fixtures on the network, Fox is a jobs program for would-be Republican White House hopefuls.) But what is eye-opening is the willingness of evangelical leaders to consider The Donald as their man for President.
That Donald Trump, like Newt Gingrich, believes marriage is an institution between one man and three women in rapid succession is apparently no barrier to his becoming the chosen one for Christian conservatives. While even Trump admits he's "not a really good husband," David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) suggested Thursday he could be a great choice for President:
Before you watch the Donald Trump's interview with Bill O'Reilly last night let me sum up the main points that Evangelicals might be interested in:
- He's opposed to gay marriage.
- He's pro-life.
- He says "There is a Muslim problem" in the World.
- He says, "There is a doubt as to whether or not (Barack Obama) was born here."
As it turns out, Brody is not alone. As he reported yesterday, Donald Trump is getting some serious attention from some of the biggest names in evangelical politics:
Ralph Reed, one of the top GOP strategists in the country and Chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition tells The Brody File, "There is a nascent and growing curiosity in the faith community about Trump. Evangelicals will like his pro-life and pro-marriage stances, combined with his business record and high-wattage celebrity all but guarantee he will get a close look from social conservatives as well as other Republican primary voters." Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council is curious to hear more as well. "Given Donald Trump's background in the gambling industry and his flamboyancy one would not think he would be a fit with Evangelical voters. However, given the wide open field of candidates, strong statements that Trump has recently made on core social issues combined with an overarching desire to see a new occupant in the White House, he may find support among social conservatives."
May find support among social conservatives, that is, because of the chaotic state of the Republican presidential field. Doubtless attractive to the GOP's evangelical base, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann have all proclaimed that their political careers were touched by the hand of God. Yet none has officially declared a candidacy for President; Palin and Huckabee seem hesitant to interrupt their financial gravy train.
Newt Gingrich, too, has proven problematic for evangelical leaders, though not because he and Trump combined bring a six-pack of wives to the table. The Baptist-turned-Catholic won friends for bankrolling the effort to recall Supreme Court judges in Iowa and for appealing to Pastor John Hagee's Rapture Ready crowd seeking an End Times conflict with Iran. But his contortions on Libya and arguments that his serious infidelities resulted from "how passionately I felt about this country" have put his standing with the far right in jeopardy.
Then again, never underestimate the willingness of some social conservatives to abandon their principles for political power. After all, despite also having three wives, gay roommates and a penchant for dressing up as a woman, in November 2007 Rudy Giuliani secured the endorsement of CBN's Pat Robertson. While Tony Perkins and Focus on the Family's James Dobson had announced strong opposition to Rudy, Robertson said Giuliani was "more than acceptable to people of faith." As Rich Lowry of the National Review reported at the time:
Just talked to a top social conservative. He says, hinting that more prominent social cons will end up going with Rudy, "There's plenty more where this comes from." On the impact of the Robertson endorsement on the race: "What it does for Rudy is it says, 'It's OK to vote for Rudy.' I think there will be more of that, pre-nomination and post-nomination." On conservative evangelical voters and Giuliani: "If Rudy is the nominee, they're going to vote for him - period."
This weekend, the big Madison Square Garden cat show. Anybody here for the cat show? Here's a little something for you: The cats are judged on poise, bone structure and firm hindquarters. Coincidentally, that's how Donald Trump picks his wives.
Apparently, as long as they can win back the White House, how some evangelical leaders pick presidential candidates.