This past weekend most of the GOP Presidential candidates made their way to Iowa to attend the Family Leadership Summit in Ames. One of those candidates, the ever-boisterous Donald Trump, made national waves for using the forum to mock John McCain’s military service. However, the waves he made among conservative evangelical voters may have a greater impact on him than the news about disparaging John McCain.
Byron York in the Washington Examiner explains that the media may be upset about the McCain comments, but GOP base voters will probably be more upset about something else Trump said.
But for the actual voters who were in the room when Trump spoke to the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, it’s possible Trump’s greater sin has nothing to do with McCain. Instead, Trump’s casual and disengaged characterization of religious faith may have made a far worse impression on the mostly evangelical conservatives who came to hear Trump and other Republican hopefuls speak.
If a candidate wants to make a good impression on religious voters in Iowa, he probably should not offer the answer Trump gave when moderator Frank Luntz asked whether Trump had ever asked God for forgiveness. “I am not sure I have,” Trump said. “I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
A candidate who seeks to make a good impression should also probably refrain from describing Holy Communion in the way Trump did: “When I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed. I think in terms of ‘let’s go on and let’s make it right.'”
The New York Times expounds on just how bad Trump may have hurt himself in Iowa.
“While there were audible groans in the crowd when Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero,” the senior Republican said via email, “it was Trump’s inability to articulate any coherent relationship with God or demonstrate the role faith plays in his life that really sucked the oxygen out of the room.”
The senior Republican continued: “Milling around talking to activists in the hallways/lobby after Trump’s speech, THAT is what those Iowa conservatives were discussing, not the McCain comment.”…
“Trump’s performance was really a one-two punch,” the Republican said. “His McCain comment gave free license to other candidates and the national political class to attack. His failure to demonstrate even the most rudimentary understanding of leading a faith-filled life will be his ultimate undoing with Iowa’s Christian conservative activists. Especially in a field with such credible alternatives.”
I’ve argued with Trump supporters time and again about the fact that Donald Trump is no conservative; in fact he’s probably not even a Republican. Now, he has given us even more evidence of the fact that conservative voters really have no business voting for him – even if they agree with him on illegal immigration. Trump doesn’t get us, he doesn’t know us, and he can’t know us… because he’s not one of us.