Donald Trump settled into the gray armchair on the theater’s stage, leaning forward and praising his co-headliner Jerry Falwell Jr., the leader of the nation’s largest Christian university.
On a sleepy Saturday night in eastern Iowa, the pair talked about the manufacturing scene in Newton, Iowa, and the mullahs of Iran. Under crimson velvet curtains, they compared views on Saudi Arabia’s national defense and South Korea’s robust television makers.
That’s right. Here is the thrice-married New York billionaire, sharing the stage with the scion of one of the Christian Right’s leading families, during the final hours of a race in Iowa that is still uncertain. On stage, they exchanged pleasantries and praise, betraying no uneasiness between two men who live quite different lives.
Note: There were audio issues with the wireless microphone system which caused some issues. All networks had this problem- it was not exclusive to us.
“We need someone other than a career politician,” said Falwell, the leader of the Christian university founded by his father.
To some, it might reek of opportunism, but The Donald has never been one to show shame. Asked earlier in the campaign what he asks God for forgiveness, Trump professed that he had never done it. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture,” Trump said. He also seemed to make light of the sacrament of Communion with references to eating “my little cracker” and drinking “my little wine.”
Falwell, whose college hosts mandatory worship services for students and is a frequent stop for Republicans, says he understands how some look at his endorsement with some skepticism given Trump’s previous support for same-sex marriage and abortion rights and his marital history.
“It’s just like when you have a sick child. You look for the best doctor you can find. It may not be a doctor who goes to your church but it’s the one who has best experience with that particular illness,” Falwell said. “We need a businessman.”
He likened it to his father’s endorsement of Ronald Reagan, “a Hollywood actor who had been divorced and remarried” over Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter. “Jimmy Carter was a great Sunday school teacher. But look at how he was as President,” Falwell said.
“He was a great gentleman,” Trump said of the elder Falwell. “He says I remind him of his father. That’s the best compliment.”
Falwell’s character testimony, however, was a reminder of the chasm between Trump and these Iowans. When Trump’s limo broke down in rural New York and a couple helped him get home, Trump paid off their mortgage, Falwell said. Or when he saw that a Maytag plant in Newton, Iowa, was closing, “his hotels in Chicago bought supplies from those businesses to keep those businesses in business.” He let people sleep in the lobbies of his buildings during other New York catastrophes.
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SOURCE: TIME, Philip Elliott