White evangelical Christians are President Trump’s electoral rock, and while there’s significant erosion in the group, evangelical political leaders are still firmly aboard the Trump train. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, explained to Politico that evangelicals gave Trump “a mulligan” and “a do-over.” On CNN Tuesday night, Erin Burnett asked him why, especially after porn star Stormy Daniels’ detailed account of an extramarital affair she says she had with Trump in 2006.
“If this behavior were occurring today, right now, as he is president of the United States, I can assure you that my support and the support of evangelicals would be dissipating very rapidly,” Perkins said. Trump won over evangelicals by promising to appoint pro-life judges, making Mike Pence his running mate, and embracing “the most conservative party platform ever, and yes, evangelicals, conservatives, gave him a mulligan, they let him have a do-over,” Perkins said. “Evangelicals understand what a second chance means.”
Later Tuesday night, CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who also noted that Trump’s alleged affair was years ago. “Not that we give anybody a pass, but we have to look at the time line,” Graham said. “And I think the president has changed quite a bit in the last 11 years … and I think there’s a maturing of the president.” “Have you read his Twitter account?” Lemon asked incredulously. “I believe Donald Trump is a good man,” Graham responded.
Graham told Lemon he believes Trump’s denials about his affair with Stormy Daniels, “and I believe that he’s a changed person, and I’ve never seen anybody get attacked like he gets attacked.” “Have you ever seen any other president attack other people as much as he attacks other people?” Lemon asked, and when Graham laughed, he asked if “turn the other cheek” wasn’t a Christian value? “I went to Catholic school, I went to catechism, and then I went to Sunday school at my Baptist church, and the Bible and everyone always taught me to do unto others and to not attack others, and that’s all this president does,” Lemon said. “He’s not the pastor of our country, Don,” Graham said.