President Donald J. Trump routinely mocks the Christian voters he relies so heavily on, a story published by The Atlantic reveals.
“From the outset of his brief political career, Trump has viewed right-wing evangelical leaders as a kind of special-interest group to be schmoozed, conned or bought off,” former Trump aides confided to the story’s author, McKay Coppins.
Among those to go on record regarding Trump’s views of Christians was the president’s niece, Mary Trump.
“Whenever I see a picture of him standing in a group of pastors, all of their hands on him, I see a thought bubble [with] the words ‘What suckers,’” she told Coppins.
According to Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer, Trump saved some of his “especially vicious” attacks for Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) Mormon faith, and in particular the religious undergarments worn by many of the group’s adult members.
“Oh my God,” Cohen said. “How many times did he bring up Mitt Romney and the undergarments.”
The report comes at a time when Trump is more reliant than ever on enthusiastic turnout by the religious members of his base — including in Texas, home to many of his most vocal Christian supporters. Polls have repeatedly shown the president’s footing slipping in key swing states, and even in states like Ohio and Iowa, once considered solid Trump territory. Texas, it turns out, is not immune to this trend. Whereas Trump beat out Hillary Clinton by 9 percentage points in 2016, Real Clear Politics places his current lead over former Vice President Joe Biden at just 3.2 points.
That said, there is reason to doubt stories of Trump belittling certain Christian practices and leaders behind closed doors will do much to sway even the most devout voters. The relationship between the president and his Christian supporters, and in particular white evangelicals, has been largely defined by the understanding that, when it comes to matters of faith, Trump is no Jimmy Carter — or Mike Pence, for that matter.
As one white evangelical voter, Jason Mulder of Iowa, recently told the New York Times, “I’m not going to say he’s a Christian, but he just doesn’t attack us.”
At least, that is, not when the mics are on.