I met Donald Trump yesterday.
I was privileged to be a part of the organizing committee that met privately with Donald Trump before he addressed over 1,000 Christian leaders in New York City.
The event was called “A Conversation with Donald Trump.” There was no expectation that participants would support him, endorse him, or instantly erase any problems they have with Trump. We came to ask questions and share our thoughts and concerns. I was there to represent Catholic voters like you.
Here are my quick thoughts:
THE GOOD: The Q & A with Trump did not result in any fireworks. Trump largely repeated what he has said in the past. Specifically, he recommitted to appointing “pro-life” justices who will respect the Constitution and promised to release additional names to his existing list of prospective Supreme Court nominees. He talked about rebuilding the military, reaching out to Hispanic voters, and repealing Obamacare. He alluded several times to the unfair restrictions on churches and the threats of stripping their tax exempt status if they engage in any political activity. He urged Christians not to be lulled into silent submission, and to stand up proudly for what they believe.
THE BAD: In my view, Trump made no new commitments, nor did he reveal any real understanding of the significant threats to religious liberty. Saying “Merry Christmas” in public barely scratches the surface. When asked specifically about efforts by LGBT activists to reshape the military, he dodged — deferring to the role of judges and avoiding the substantive issues. For someone applauded widely for being politically incorrect, Mr. Trump has been noticeably quiet when it comes to the radical LGBT agenda. Finally, because time was limited, questions on Planned Parenthood, his pro-life conversion, humility, and faith were not asked — including my own question.
Governor Mike Huckabee served as moderator for the 90 minutes Trump participated. Trump appeared relaxed and reasonable. He listened attentively. Given his recent drop in the polls and abysmal fundraising, he knows he needs the support of the people in that room.
CV has not endorsed Trump. Like you, we recognize the stakes. Hillary undeniably poses a direct threat to nearly everything we believe. Many good people believe the prospect of Hillary Clinton as president requires us to support Trump, while others continue to hope that a third option will emerge. Just because we have not endorsed does not mean we cannot work to achieve some good in the process.
CatholicVote members have been clear: secure as many commitments from Trump as possible. If he has any hope of getting elected, he needs our votes, and we must work constructively in a very imperfect situation to advance our ideals as best as we can.
Meanwhile, our main focus remains keeping the United States Senate in pro-life hands. With the news this morning that Marco Rubio will seek re-election in Florida, that prospect just got better. We are also focused on highly competitive races in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
I urge you to remain hopeful. Keep praying. Join our Rosary for America campaign. Download the CV app. Refuse to give in to despair.
Today is the feast of St. Thomas More, the patron saint of religious freedom.
I hope you will join me in praying today for his intercession for our country and our leaders.