Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Meeting With Donald Trump By Richard A. Viguerie #NeverClinton

June 27, 2016

Donald Trump

Last Tuesday, as was lightly reported in the news media, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump conducted a series of meetings with cultural conservative leaders, activists and thinkers.

I was privileged to serve on the steering committee brought together by Bill Dallas, leader of United in Purpose, who, along with the leaders of, organized the meetings.

Tempting as it was to rush my initial thoughts and comments out to the pages of CHQ, I wanted to let what I saw and heard sink in a little before I went public and shared with you my take on the meetings.

One point I think that is important to make on the front end of my comments is that, while the news media portrayed the events as Donald Trump meeting with “Evangelicals,” the meetings at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square included about 1,000 individuals representing most of the conservative movement’s cultural conservative organizations, interests and issues.

Thus, the meeting included Conservative Catholics and a broad cross section of pro-family, pro-life and traditional values advocates. Virtually every cultural conservative organization, interest and issue was represented in the large town hall-style meeting. 

However, given the breadth of the interests in the room, obviously not everyone was going to get their specific question answered or their narrow issue addressed.

So, what was my overall impression of Trump and his command of the conservative agenda, especially the cultural conservative agenda?

I’d say that my overall impression was that, like Barry Goldwater in 1964, Donald Trump is going to run as himself; he didn’t come in the room and pander or tell us what we wanted to hear.

He spoke in generalities and “open and educable” would seem to be the best general descriptors of Trump’s demeanor during the large meeting and in the smaller meeting he conducted with the members of the steering committee.

Those attendees who were looking for Donald Trump the secular businessman to make a “road to Damascus” conversion and before our eyes morph into Donald Trump the cultural conservative warrior were no doubt disappointed.

I had no such expectation, however what Trump said gave me confidence that supporting him is the right thing to do.

Why? Because this election is now a binary choice: Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump.

So, it is to Trump that right-of-center voters will have to look if our country and constitutional liberties are to survive.

And make no mistake, this election is about the survival of the country that Donald Trump has promised to make great again.

Obama, Hillary Clinton and their far-left allies have increased the tempo of their assaults on constitutional liberty and the external threats to our national security and domestic tranquility have grown ever greater.

Does Donald Trump think and speak like a longtime movement conservative? Of course not.

But after meeting with Trump I find it very strange indeed that many of the same individuals who decry Donald Trump’s deviations from conservative orthodoxy were quick to try to explain away the Romney family’s support for Planned Parenthood and other decidedly anti-conservative organizations and institutions.

If you think Trump can’t be trusted or that he won’t fulfill his promises I say grow up and get in the real world – no politician, including Ronald Reagan the greatest president of my life time, fulfills 100% of their campaign promises.

The question is not will Trump bat 1000?

It is will Trump try to undo the damage eight years of Obama and a feckless GOP Congress have inflicted upon America? And the undoubted answer to that is YES.

For those who say they are #NeverTrump because “Donald Trump is not a conservative” on this and that issue I’m curious as to what version of conservatism they subscribe to – the George W. Bush version that says Islam is a religion of peace and led us into an apparently endless and inconclusive war in the Middle East, or the Donald Trump version that says defeat radical Islam wherever we find it?

Or maybe it is the Paul Ryan version of conservatism that says we should fund Obama’s extra-constitutional amnesty for illegal aliens, the Planned Parenthood Industry of Death and a grotesque list of crony government raids on the taxpayers for things like “green energy” and bailouts of Puerto Rico?

Many of Trump’s establishment critics, such as Paul Ryan, seem to reject even a conversation about the threat of radical Islam. They are all about the econometric model of open borders that is supported by both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and far-left racial interest groups, and they have no interest in cutting spending or limited government, because government power is how they enforce their elitist views on the rest of us.

Donald Trump may not speak with fluency the language of the Bible or of the great modern conservative movement thinkers like Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley, Jr., but he is clearly on the side of country class America on the key issues of rebuilding our economy, ending unlimited legal and illegal immigration, fighting and winning the war Islam has declared on the West and ending the culture of political correctness that is stifling religious liberty and common sense.

Before I met with Trump I thought that when one examined the views of many of the Republican and allegedly conservative #NeverTrump holdouts they are a lot closer to Hillary Clinton and the rest of the DC elite than they are to the views of the millions of country class citizens who turned-out to support Donald Trump in the Republican primaries.

Everything I saw and heard from Donald Trump at the Marriott Marquis reinforced that view.

On June 3 I posted a column on CHQ headlined “Sorry Friends, If You Are #NeverTrump Then You Are #4Hillary” and suggested that readers who were having trouble bringing themselves to vote for Donald Trump look in the mirror and recite the following list:

I’m OK with Hillary Clinton appointing three or four Supreme Court appointments.

I’m OK with Hillary Clinton appointing hundreds of Federal Court Judges.

I’m OK with Hillary Clinton stripping me of my Second Amendment rights.

I’m OK with Hillary Clinton using the power of the IRS and other federal agencies to terminate my First Amendment rights and the First Amendment rights of other Conservatives.

I’m OK with Hillary Clinton expanding Obama’s open borders and unlimited immigration policies.

And, I’m OK with Hillary Clinton deciding the outer limits of my freedom of conscience and whether or not I can worship God and raise my children as my conscience dictates.

I know Hillary Clinton is unalterably opposed to conservatives on those six questions and after meeting with Donald Trump I’m more confident than ever that he is with us on them.

Can Donald Trump breakdown the details of bills conservatives support in this year’s Congress or recite lengthy passages from the Bible like Ted Cruz? No, of course not. But this is now a binary choice: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and in that choice the future of our country does not allow conservatives to be neutral or indifferent.

What Trump Got Right On The Conservative Agenda


June 28, 2016

Richard Viguerie and Donald Trump

A week ago today I participated in a series of meetings between cultural conservative leaders, activists and thinkers and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

I think it is fair to say that the meetings at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square, that included about 1,000 individuals, represented most of the conservative movement’s cultural conservative organizations, interests and issues.

In a large town hall-style meeting Donald Trump took questions that had been submitted in advance of the meeting. Of course with 1,000 people in the room it was obvious not every issue was going to be addressed or every question answered, but by my count Trump addressed only nine questions.

While I wish Donald Trump could have covered more points on the conservative agenda, in fairness to Trump he isn’t a typical politician trained to answer every question as a made-for-TV soundbite – and frankly some of the questions were a bit repetitive – but Trump was genial and thoughtful and for the most part he didn’t stall or rope-a-dope even as he sometimes wandered off point.

The first question Trump took was a softball lobbed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who, when he folded his campaign for President, endorsed Donald Trump and subsequently has become one of his key advocates to Evangelicals and cultural conservatives.

Governor Huckabee posed his question this way:

The relationship that you have with your family, the relationship and bond that you have with your adult children, is one of the most admirable I’ve ever seen from any father with children. People can fake it onstage — they can walk out and do a happy family moment — but you can’t fake that backstage, over and over again. What I saw was real. And it was one of the reasons that I have had no hesitation endorsing you, supporting you, and enthusiastically encouraging people to get behind your candidacy. We’re going to talk about a lot of issues. But I want you to begin today by expressing: What is it about the relationship you have with your children that is so special? What is that bond all about? *

From this question Donald Trump went on a rambling discourse about his relationship with his children, his efforts to inculcate in them “no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes,” his church attendance as a child and his incredulity that so many religious leaders have abandoned advocating traditional values in the public square for fear of losing their tax-exempt status.

Said Trump:

…one day, at one of our meetings, somebody said, “They’re petrified of losing their tax-exempt status.” And I said, “What is that all about?” And they went into it. It was what happened during the Johnson administration. And I will tell you folks that some of you will agree, some of you will disagree, and some of you, it’s been ingrained and that’s the worst thing because you don’t even think about it. You can’t see the forest for the trees, some of you are so close to it. But I can tell you, I watched this during the last year, and I watched fear in the hearts of brave, incredible people. And we are going to get rid of that, because you should have the right to speak.

Whether through good briefing or being a good listener in meetings with his cultural conservative advisors, such as Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr., he made it clear he’s on the side of conservatives in the ongoing battle over the place of religion in the public square.

And most importantly, Donald Trump made it clear that a Trump administration, unlike Hillary Clinton, is not going to stifle religious liberty by siccing the IRS on churches and ministers who, for example, advocate the Biblical definition of marriage in opposition to the secular Supreme Court imposed definition of marriage.

So, score one for Trump.

Next to ask a question was my old friend Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Dr. Dobson’s question was this:

… when Barack Obama became president, I think there was a conscious effort to undermine our religious liberty. You’ve probably seen it from that time to this. Have you noticed that the president and Democrats and Hillary — yes, Hillary — no longer talk about “freedom of religion”? They talk about “freedom of worship.” Why have they changed that? It’s very small, a one-word change. Well, freedom of worship means that you are confined to your churches and your synagogues, but freedom of religion, as identified in the Constitution, is in the public square, it’s everywhere. So they have tried to limit us to our church activity. So we’re seeing more and more of that.

Mr. Trump, we would like you to start your comments by answering that question: What will your administration do to help promote all of our freedoms — all of the Bill of Rights, and what it has meant to be an American — and protect us? Or do we have to fight another Revolutionary War to preserve them?

Again, Trump’s answer, while wandering back to IRS rules, was one that every conservative should embrace:

We talk about religious liberty, and I think it is the number one question. There are numerous things that we’re going to be doing. For one thing, we’re going to appoint great Supreme Court justices. And these will be Supreme Court justices that will be great intellects, that will be talented men in what they do (and women), but also be pro-life.

Trump then reminded the audience that he had already released a list of 11 prospective Supreme Court Justices who had been vetted by the Federalist Society and concluded his answer with this commentary on the role of religion in the public square:

We’re becoming so politically correct that we can’t function as a country anymore. We’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” again, and we’re going to be saying a lot of other things. When coaches aren’t allowed to pray on the field with their team, going into battle? That’s a disgrace, and that’s gonna change. And not everybody has to pray if they don’t want to, and that’s fine. But when a coach has a team and they’re going into battle and they’re restricted from praying — and they fire the coach! — those days will be over.

Trump may not have all the nuances of Federalist 10 internalized, but he captured and applied almost perfectly to today’s far-Left PC police, Madison’s definition and the effects of an oppressive faction: “…a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

Score another point for Trump.

The next question was asked by Ronnie Floyd (former president of the Southern Baptist Convention) who asked:

If you’re elected president of the United States, what will you do to address the real need of poverty and crime, violence and a lack of opportunity in the urban areas of our country? And to heal the worsening racial tension in the United States of America?

Let’s face it, right here is where most politicians, and especially most establishment Republicans, would immediately endorse spending billions on Midnight basketball and other programs that, over the past sixty years have consumed trillions of dollars while making no impact on urban poverty, other than to institutionalize intergenerational welfare dependence.

Here’s what Trump said:

Now, there is one word that would take care of a big chunk of it, and that’s jobs. We need jobs. [Applause] Our jobs are being taken away to other countries. NAFTA — which is one of the worst things ever signed economically in this country’s history, it was signed by Bill Clinton — it’s a disaster. I won all these states by such big margins, I’m looking at all these factories that closed 20 years ago and are rotting, really. Jobs have to be brought back.

With that, we also have to understand — and they don’t get enough credit — but our police forces do an unbelievable job. They are so ridiculed and so maligned: You have one bad actor, something happens, it’s a national story for weeks, and they don’t show you the good work the police do.

One thing I have to say is that when Obama got elected, I didn’t think he was going to be a great president — I didn’t know it would be like this. … But I thought he would be a great cheerleader, especially when you’re talking about the inner cities. And what they need is they need training, but they also need spirit. There’s no spirit in these inner cities. You look at what’s going on in Chicago. Chicago’s like a tale of two cities. There’s no training, there’s no spirit, there’s no hope for these people. We’ve gotta get in and we’ve gotta straighten it out. We’ve got a spirit crisis in this country, and I’m not only talking about the inner cities — I’m talking everywhere.

While Trump saw Rudy Giuliani’s community policing and “broken window” strategy work in New York, I’m pretty sure Donald Trump never read the Moynihan Report (The Negro Family: The Case For National Action by Daniel Patrick Moynihan) or Jack Kemp’s American Renaissance.

Though Kemp would no doubt cringe at Trump’s attacks on free trade, once again in his own rambling language Trump captured the core conservative ideas that jobs and economic growth, along with law and order in every neighborhood, are key to restoring the quality of life and establishing social justice in our inner cities.

Score another point for Trump.

The next question was asked by David Jeremiah, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, who asked:

When you become president, we want to know how you are going to stand with Israel and stand against those who want them to give up some of their land in order to have peace.

Trump’s answer was clear, simple and direct:

I’m 100 percent for Israel. I have been forever. It is an amazing country. It has been shunned by the United States, in favor of Iran and others... And now Israel’s almost like lost to our country. We will bring that back, and we will bring it back fast. We’re going to be close to Israel.

The next question went to Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who asked:

One of the issues that concerns us is immigration. We are not in favor of amnesty. We have every right to stop all illegal immigration as expeditiously as possible. [Applause] There are terrorists coming in, narco traffickers coming in that want to do us harm. But you talk about building a wall. And because of what’s taken place previously — and even the interpretation through various media platforms and such — there is the idea in the Latino community that you have no commitment whatsoever to building a bridge to the Hispanic-American community. What’s your strategy, Mr. Trump, in doing both things — in protecting our borders, protecting our nation, and simultaneously building a bridge with this wonderful community called the Hispanic-American community?

Once again, Trump didn’t waffle or backpedal or flip-flop, he said:

We have a country, but we don’t have borders. The southern border is a disaster. Coming in through the southern border are massive, massive, massive amounts of drugs and lots of problems. If we don’t have a border, we don’t have a country. And there is no country. There’s gotta be a border, a line, you know, something to obey. I have thousands of Latinos and Hispanics and Mexicans working for me, phenomenal people. And this has nothing to do with anything other than, to have a country, we have to have a border.

This was a solid conservative answer that certainly satisfied Sammy Rodriguez and most of the people in the room, but part of the Trump political phenomenon is that he weaves together seemingly disparate elements or issues to attack the establishment and politically correct thinking, and put himself on the side of country class Americans, thus there was a second part to Trump’s answer:

And, by the way, other politicians said, “You can’t build a wall,” like it’s hard to build. In China, they built the Great Wall of China, which is 13 times longer. Thirteen times. They built the Great Wall of China in — well, they probably didn’t have Caterpillar tractors, by the way. You know, 2,000 years ago, they built the Great Wall of China, and we’re saying we can’t build the wall. The wall is so easy from a construction standpoint. They actually wanted to build it, and they were unable to get their environmental impact statements — can you believe that? Because probably a certain form of rattlesnake was in their way. That’s a true story.

I jokingly say, as China is building a massive, massive military facility in the South China Sea, I say, “How long do you think it took them to get their environmental impact statements?” As they have the largest excavators in the world ripping the hell out of the ocean and dumping? They started working not on Monday, they started working on Saturday morning.

You know, we are really in a very dangerous world right now, and we’re going to have to readjust our thinking very, very rapidly.

Not many politicians would use the word “hell” in a room full of Evangelical preachers, Catholic priests and lay ministers of who knows how many denominations, but Trump did and to heavy applause at the conclusion because of the self-evident truth of his answer.

*To supplement my notes I’ve relied on news reports, records/articles by other participants to ensure I report the speaker’s words as accurately as possible.

Trump Fumbles, But Closes Strongly


June 29, 2016

Kelly Shackelford

Last week I participated in a series of meetings between cultural conservative leaders, activists and thinkers and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and this is the third installment of my report on the meetings.

I think it is fair to say that the meetings at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square, that included about 1,000 individuals, represented most of the conservative movement’s cultural conservative organizations, interests and issues.

In a large town hall-style meeting Donald Trump took questions that had been submitted in advance of the meeting. Of course with 1,000 people in the room it was obvious not every issue was going to be addressed or every question answered, but by my count Trump addressed only nine questions.

Yesterday, in my column “What Trump Got Right On The Conservative Agenda” I covered the first part of the town hall meeting and the first five questions he addressed, all of which he answered from a viewpoint favorable to conservatives.

The next question in the big town hall-style event went to Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who asked:

What policies, if any, of the Obama administration will you reverse? And what steps will you take to restore our military and the rights of our men and women in uniform to practice their religious freedom?

This was perhaps the one question where Trump’s rambling style failed him, because it should have been a simple answer in the same vein as the one he delivered about Christmas and society becoming “so politically correct that we can’t function as a country anymore.”

Instead, Trump wandered all over the map.

You know when you talk about the most important jobs of a president, you always have to go with defense, defense, right?

I saw the other day — you probably saw on a couple of the networks — where they were talking about our fighter planes where they’re old, they’re 18 to 20 years old. We’re using these planes to fight.

And our military is so badly depleted. And we fight all over the place. We fight in little pockets here, here. We don’t win anything. We don’t fight to win.

You thought we won in Iraq? We didn’t win in Iraq. We handed Iraq to Iran. We have given Iraq — with among the largest oil reserves in the world — we have given it to Iran through sheer stupidity.

This could be the greatest Trojan horse. This [the Syrian refugee resettlement program] could be the real-deal Trojan horse, OK fellas? We have no idea who these people are.

We have to have the greatest fighting force in the world, whatever that may be. And we have to have the generals make these decisions, and the leaders — the military leaders — make these decisions without influencing, without people calling, saying, “Do this or do that.”

Trump wasn’t wrong about our aging military aircraft or the strategic implications of Iran’s role in Iraq, but I certainly couldn’t score this one for Donald Trump, because, like many in the room, I was left wondering whether Trump even understood the question, let alone which of the military social experiments and morale killing policies of President Obama’s he planned to repeal.

The next question went to my friend Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute law firm, who was seated right next to me. Kelly asked:

This is a two-part question on religious liberty. The first is what you mentioned, that the next president is going to appoint at least three Supreme Court justices, probably hundreds of federal judges — these are life appointments. What process or what people are you going to rely on so you can assure people here to know you’re gonna get really good justices? And secondly, probably the key issue right now in religious liberty is the attempt to use gay rights to trump religious freedom. So a baker, like the couple that’s a Christian baker in Oregon, because they couldn’t do a gay wedding cake, they’ve been prosecuted by the state, they’re bankrupt, they’ve been fined $135,000 and told by the judge that they need to be, quote, rehabilitated. Have you thought through yet, or do you know yet, where you’re going to stand? I know you may need time on some of these issues. But I know this is something that would be very important to the people in this room. 

Donald Trump’s answer was this:

So, on the judges: The Federalist Society is the gold standard on judges, are you happy with that? I think, right? Also Heritage [Foundation], Jim is fantastic. Jim DeMint and the Heritage [Foundation] is — I think they’re doing a great job. And they’ve done it also. Plus, we’re going to probably put four or five additional [judges on the list] as I’ve said before. And we’re going do that. We’re going to do that very quickly. And frankly, the decision that you’re looking at is ultimately going to be a court decision. And the people that go on the court over the next period of time are going to have a lot to do with that decision. Because right now, that decision does not look — and I know where you stand on it — and that decision is not looking very good for you. And by the way, if you are pro-life, it’s not going to be very good for pro-life right now. And if Hillary gets in, honestly, Mike, if she picks two more judges — not three, four or five — pro-life is a whole different story.

Your question is a whole different story. Because ultimately, the court is going to decide that question. They’re going to decide that answer. And I will say this and I’ve said before: I’m putting pro-life judges on. … The justices that I’ve put on, and you can look at their names and we have them posted, but the justices, I have gotten tremendous, rave views from the people that we’ve picked. Eleven, we’ve picked 11 so far. And we’ll pick a few more and they’ll be very similar. I’ve gotten tremendous reviews. The alternative is the opposite. There won’t be any pro-life judges put on there. They will be all pro-choice. They will be all, 100 percent. 

Trump correctly identified the problem as one of judges making law and creating special rights for new classes of people that are then used to negate the rights enumerated in the Constitution, and that is something that judges who meet the standards of the Federalist Society and Heritage would be very very unlikely to do.

On the other hand, in my opinion Trump didn’t really answer the second part of Kelly Shackelford’s question and Kelly later told Charisma News, "For me, there are two ultimate issues in this election: religious freedom and the federal courts. I was grateful that the No. 1 topic of today's conversation was religious liberty, giving us a good starting point to understand where Mr. Trump stands on the issue.”

"I appreciated how, very early in the meeting, Mr. Trump brought up First Liberty's client, Coach Joe Kennedy, and expressed his concern that a high school football coach would be fired for praying after a game. Mr. Trump said attacks on faith like this need to stop, and I agree.”

The many people in the room who were hoping that Trump would say that, as President, he would lead an effort to stop the use of homosexual “rights” as a means of limiting religious liberty, were no doubt disappointed that Trump skipped over the second part of Kelly Shackelford’s question, but as Kelly later put it, "Although there is still more to learn about where Mr. Trump stands on some of the top religious freedom cases in America, like the Little Sisters of the Poor and military chaplains, I think today was a good start and I look forward to continuing the conversation.”

I’d score Trump as hitting a home run on judges (again), but the best that could be said was that he came across as uniformed on the specifics of some of the broader cultural issues, such as the effects of judge created same-sex “marriage” and special rights for homosexuals on religious liberty.

At this point Mike Huckabee raised the Second Amendment as an issue related to Kelly Shackelford’s question, and as another constitutional right that would be “gone” if Hillary Clinton were elected, and Donald Trump offered this commentary in response to Huckabee’s remarks:

I’m so glad you mentioned the Second Amendment. Because the Second Amendment, like Christianity, the Second Amendment is under siege. And you have right now a tied court. And frankly, if one judge gets on, that’s the end of the Second Amendment certainly as you know it. And I say, and I say it in all seriousness: Hillary Clinton is going to abolish the Second Amendment if she becomes president. She will abolish, so you’re not going to have protection. … You’re not going to have protection. You’re not going to be able to protect yourself. Some of the ideas they have are unbelievable and not what our Founders wanted or had in mind. So the Second Amendment is totally under siege and we’re going to protect the Second Amendment.

You know the NRA endorsed me, it was the earliest endorsement that they’ve ever given. I have great respect for the NRA. And I think that’s an important thing. But when we get down to the Supreme Court, you’re talking about religious liberty, freedom. You’re talking about all of the things that you asked about. And your question’s great. But you know ultimately, it’s the courts that are going to decide. And if it’s my judges, you know how they’re going to decide. And if it’s her judges, you also know how they’re going to decide. (emphasis mine) 

Again, another home run score for Trump on judges.

Donald Trump concluded his remarks with this commentary which was unexpected and seemed to encapsulate the relationship he was trying to build with the audience in the room:

I know, as an example, the young people aren’t going [to church] as much.

But we have to bring that back. We have to bring those values back. We have to bring that spirit back. And in a way, it’s been taken way from you by the federal government and by these horrendous things that have been allowed in the past.

But just remember this: You are the most powerful group in this country. But you have to realize that. You have to band together. You have to band together. If you don’t band together, you’re really not powerful. You have a powerful church. I see it. I see some of these incredible pastors and ministers and people that speak so brilliantly. And I see it. But they’re great within their audience but then outside they don’t have it.

You have to band together as a group. And if you do that, you will bring it back like nothing has ever been brought back.

When was the last time you heard a Republican candidate for President, say “we have to bring young people back to church”? Is that something Mitt Romney or John McCain would have said? Not on your life!

In reviewing my notes and the transcript of the town hall meeting I’d rate Donald Trump’s answers to most of the questions as favorable to the conservative agenda, and on judges and religion in the public square he hit several home runs.

While Trump didn’t really answer the second part of Kelly Shackelford’s question on religious liberty, during the town hall-style meeting I’d say Donald Trump’s only fumble, and it was a substantial one, was on Tony Perkins’ question about religious liberty and social experimenting in the military.

Whether Trump didn’t understand the question, hadn’t been briefed on an issue that doesn’t typically make the TV news or hasn’t thought about the issue at all (highly likely in my opinion) we know Hillary Clinton is against us on this, so our job is to communicate with Trump and to make sure that he understands this is the military version of his comment on religion in the public square; “We’re becoming so politically correct that we can’t function as a country [or a military] anymore.”

Clearly, it does not come naturally to Donald Trump to speak the language of cultural conservatives, politically active Christians and the Bible.

However, it is equally clear that Donald Trump has absorbed many of the concerns and anxieties that today’s cultural conservatives have about the far-Left inspired use of government to limit the practice of religion in the public square and to stifle religious commentary and faith testimony on cultural and social issues.

Trump gets that to make America great again we have to bring back what he calls values and spirit. And, unlike Hillary Clinton, as imperfect a vessel as Donald Trump may be, in matters of values and spirt he is on our side.

*To supplement my notes I’ve relied on news reports and articles by other participants to ensure I report the speaker’s words as accurately as possible.

My Question For Mr. Trump And Next Steps


June 30, 2016

As I noted in the first of my columns on last week’s meetings between Donald Trump and cultural conservative thinkers, leaders and activists, I was privileged to serve on the steering committee brought together by Bill Dallas, who leads United in Purpose, and the leaders of that organized the meetings.  

Richard ViguerieWhile the news media portrayed the events as Donald Trump meeting with “Evangelicals,” the big town hall-style meeting at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square included about 1,000 individuals representing most of the conservative movement’s cultural conservative organizations, interests and issues. 

As a member of the steering committee I also had the opportunity to meet with Donald Trump in a much smaller group setting, and in both meetings I was anxious to ask Trump a version of a question that I have put to many post-Reagan Republican candidates, and that I urge conservatives to ask of every candidate for any office:

Mr. Trump, 

Candidates for public office often promise us conservatives the sun, the moon, the stars-and sometimes they even believe it. 

But conservatives have learned the hard way that personnel is policy, and if the candidate, upon assuming office, puts into key positions mostly captains of industry, Fortune 500 executives, and Wall Street types, we lose – our issues will not see the light of day. 

Because of your extensive business background, the people you've walked with for the last 45 years, your friends, your business associates – with few exceptions – do not share our views and values on most important issues, such as traditional values, cultural issues, limited government, opposition to crony government, and religious liberty. 

Why should conservatives who have strongly-held views about these issues have confidence that, if you're fortunate to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next January 20, you will appoint people to key positions in the White House, such as White House Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Chief of Personnel, and cabinet positions, such as Attorney General, Health and Human Services, etc. who share the views and values of us conservatives who are the base of the Republican Party? 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to ask that question in either the small group meeting – which was largely Donald Trump delivering a campaign speech to us – or in the large town hall meeting which focused mostly on religious liberty. 

The closest Donald Trump came to addressing that question was in his comments about judges, and making his judicial appointments from candidates suggested by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. 

That was encouraging, but it didn’t really address my concerns, which were first raised a few months ago during CNN’s GOP Town Hall in Columbia, South Carolina when Anderson Cooper asked Donald Trump, “Would you want all Republicans in your cabinet?”  

“No, not necessarily,” Trump responded. “I want the best people.” 

I hate to say it, but that was almost word-for-word the answer Mitt Romney gave me when I asked him the personnel question back on October 1, 2007 when he was running in the Primary against John McCain. 

In fairness, Trump has come a long way since that CNN town hall in South Carolina and he has, from the beginning of his campaign, assembled a solid inside group of cultural conservative supporters. 

Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr., Phyllis Schlafly, Gov. Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Pastor Paula White, Darrell Scott, former Pentagon official Joseph E. Schmitz and conservative talk show host Sam Clovis, to say nothing of Senator Jeff Sessions and some of his top staffers, have been advising Trump from the beginning – but these conservatives, good people as they are, are Donald Trump’s new friends. 

And we all know that top government appointments do not go to the applicant with the highest SAT score – when it comes to political appointments “the best” is a highly subject judgement. 

So my concern is not with Donald Trump’s new conservative friends, my concern is with his old friends – the Wall Street types, the Palm Beach society types, the sports and entertainment types who have been Donald Trump’s associates over the long course of his business and entertainment career. 

If Donald Trump were to appoint a distinguished Wall Street lawyer as his Attorney General chances are the cultural conservative agenda would get short shrift, the same thing if he were to appoint a Palm Beach society doctor as Surgeon General or a leading figure from the insurance or medical industry to head the Department of Health and Human Services.  

Anyone of those individuals might qualify as among “the best,” but they probably wouldn’t be the “best conservative” for the job – and that should be our goal as conservatives – getting the best conservatives available appointed to key positions in the next administration. 

Clearly, it does not come naturally to Donald Trump to speak the language of cultural conservatives, politically active Christians, the Bible and the Constitution. 

But, just as clearly, we have him looking our way on a number of important issues; judicial appointments, matters of conscience and religious liberty, and reining-in the use of government enforced political correctness to stifle Christian witness in the public square. 

If I were to summarize my takeaway from my meetings with Donald Trump it would be this: We have a start, because we have Donald Trump at the negotiating table.  

If you read Donald Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” and listen carefully and parse what he says, one thing comes through loud and clear: What interests Donald Trump is not closing the deal – it is negotiating the deal.  

It is the pursuit that interests Trump, not necessarily the close. 

And what this should tell conservatives is that remaining engaged in the communication and education process with Donald Trump is the most important part of the “art of the deal” – simply offering up support and expecting Trump to be on board with our agenda is to disregard his history and the plain words of what he has said in books and speeches spanning decades. 

The good news is, Trump has offered conservatives a vehicle to do that, a group referred to by Politico as Trump’s “Evangelical Advisory Board” which includes, among others, my old friend Dr. James Dobson, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Ralph Reed, Founder, of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and one of cultural conservatism's sharpest political minds. 

We know there’s no negotiating on our issues with Hillary Clinton, so it is to Trump that right-of-center voters will have to look if our country and constitutional liberties are to survive, and it is to us that Trump must look to find the votes necessary to win the election.  

We have an opportunity to negotiate a win-win deal with Donald Trump, but the burden to make clear what our priorities are, and that personnel is policy is one of those priorities, is now on us.  

I urge CHQ readers to prayerfully consider how they can get engaged in the Trump campaign and contribute to the effort to educate Donald Trump and his team on how, and most importantly, who can best advance the cause of governing America according to limited government constitutional conservative principles.

No comments: