Donald Trump is still schmoozing white evangelical supporters at Mar-a-Lago: report
During former President Donald Trump’s four years in the White House, far-right White evangelicals and Christian nationalists were among his most ardent supporters. Trump has been gone from the White House for 14 months. But according to Politico’s Meridith McGraw, he continues to bring White evangelicals to Mar-a-Lago on a regular basis.
“This past Friday afternoon over lunch, a group of evangelical leaders met with former President Donald Trump at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.,” McGraw reports in an article published on March 23. “The meeting, organized by Trump’s informal spiritual adviser and televangelist Paula White-Cain, was described by Trump advisers as a routine drop-in visit for the former president, who has opened up his private resort to a parade of political meetings and fundraisers with GOP candidates, consultants and deep-pocketed donors.”
The far-right White evangelicals who attended that Friday, March 18 gathering at Mar-a-Lago, according to McGraw, included well-known figures like Dr. James Dobson, pastor Jack Graham and Ralph Reed, who heads the Faith and Freedom Coalition. McGraw reports that Trump has also stayed in contact with evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, since leaving the White House.
The Christian movement has had a stranglehold on the Republican Party since the early 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan welcomed them in his coalition. The late conservative Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, a Reagan supporter, wasn’t happy about that; as Goldwater saw it, the Christian Right movement was bad for the Republican Party and bad for the conservative movement — and he had nothing good to say about extremists like the Moral Majority’s Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr. and the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson. Regardless, countless Republicans ignored Goldwater and shamelessly pandered to the Falwell/Robertson crowd at every turn.
It remains to be seen whether or not Trump will run for president again in 2024. But if he does decide to run, McGraw notes, his operation will need to turn out as many White evangelical voters as possible.
“As Trump teases a 2024 run, his continued contact with White evangelical Christian leaders in phone calls and regular meetings at Mar-a-Lago is evidence that he is committed to keeping the coalition that first delivered him to the White House intact,” McGraw explains. “It’s a group that Trump recognized early on would be critical for his political trajectory — not just because a cosmopolitan, thrice married, former Playboy cover star who curses and throws out cruel insults to his political enemies lacked a certain appeal to that crowd, but because that crowd is the bedrock of modern Republican politics. Since leaving office, that relationship hasn’t changed.”
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