Aide de­fends Trump af­ter mag­a­zine’s scathing edi­to­rial

Orlando Sentinel - - NATION & WORLD - By Robert Costa

WASH­ING­TON — A top Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial re­sponded Sun­day to an evan­gel­i­cal mag­a­zine’s edi­to­rial that called for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re­moval from of­fice and de­scribed him as a “near per­fect ex­am­ple of a hu­man be­ing who is morally lost and con­fused.”

Speak­ing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Marc Short — Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s chief of staff — de­fended Trump and ex­pressed con­fi­dence about Trump’s bond with evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers, who re­main a crit­i­cal bloc in­side the Repub­li­can Party.

“It’s no sur­prise to you that evan­gel­i­cals are not mono­lithic in their po­lit­i­cal view­points,” Short said of the scathing ar­ti­cle by Chris­tian­ity To­day’s re­tir­ing ed­i­tor, Mark Galli.

Galli wrote that Trump’s re­moval from of­fice “is not a mat­ter of par­ti­san loy­al­ties but loy­alty to the Creator of the Ten Com­mand­ments.” And, he added, to the “many evan­gel­i­cals who con­tinue to sup­port Mr. Trump in spite of his black­ened moral record, we might say this: Re­mem­ber who you are and whom you serve.”

Chris­tian­ity To­day, founded by the late Rev. Billy Gra­ham, pub­lished the edi­to­rial Thurs­day. It sparked im­me­di­ate out­rage from Trump and his al­lies, with the pres­i­dent tweet­ing that the pub­li­ca­tion is a “far left mag­a­zine ... which has been do­ing poorly.”

Short, who for decades has worked with Pence and along­side evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers, cast Galli’s com­ments as un­rep­re­sen­ta­tive of evan­gel­i­cals’ ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Trump and his poli­cies, from anti-abor­tion ef­forts to over­haul­ing the ju­di­ciary.

“A lot of us who will cel­e­brate our sav­ior’s birth this week, we ac­knowl­edge that there is a pres­i­dent in this ad­min­is­tra­tion who is also pro­tect­ing thou­sands of other un­planned preg­nan­cies in de­fense of life,” Short said, not­ing his own faith.

Short then ar­gued that Trump has “stood up for Is­rael” and for reli­gious lib­erty — poli­cies and po­si­tions that give “a lot of com­fort to Chris­tians across our coun­try.”

When “Meet the Press” mod­er­a­tor Chuck Todd asked Short whether evan­gel­i­cals have con­cerns about Trump’s be­hav­ior, Short again said Chris­tian vot­ers are “not mono­lithic” and said many of them “take great grat­i­tude that he’s our pres­i­dent.”

Else­where, on “Fox News Sun­day” with Chris Wal­lace, Short again de­fended Trump’s con­duct, this time Trump’s sug­ges­tion dur­ing a cam­paign rally last week that John Din­gell — the late long­time law­maker and hus­band of Rep. Deb­bie Din­gell, D-Mich. — might be “look­ing up” from hell.

De­spite an up­roar from Democrats and some Repub­li­cans, Trump has not apol­o­gized.

“Chris, I’m sorry that she’s hurt­ing ... But, you know, in light of where we were on Wed­nes­day night, I think the pres­i­dent’s say­ing John Din­gell was not ex­actly a wall­flower. John Din­gell called the pres­i­dent ‘im­be­cile’ in his clos­ing months,” Short said of the con­gress­man.

Trump also tweeted Fri­day that he as­sumes that Chris­tian­ity To­day sup­ports a Demo­crat, and he noted the trans­ac­tional re­la­tion­ship he has had with evan­gel­i­cals.

Galli told The Wash­ing­ton Post on Fri­day morn­ing that Trump had mis­char­ac­ter­ized the mag­a­zine, which con­sid­ers it­self cen­trist or pos­si­bly cen­ter­right.

“No­body con­sid­ers us as far left,” Galli said. “We don’t com­ment on larger na­tional is­sues ex­cept when they rise to a level of moral in­flu­ence.”

Galli said the mag­a­zine strug­gled fi­nan­cially dur­ing the re­ces­sion, as did many me­dia out­lets, but is on strong foot­ing with do­na­tions and sub­scrip­tions now.

He agreed that Trump has pleased the evan­gel­i­cal com­mu­nity when it comes to pol­icy de­ci­sions on abor­tion and reli­gious free­dom. But Galli com­pared evan­gel­i­cals to a wife in an abu­sive mar­riage where the hus­band is a re­li­able provider.

An NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll from ear­lier this month found 75 per­cent of white evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians ap­proved of Trump, com­pared with 42 per­cent of U.S. adults over­all.

SU­SAN WALSH/AP

Marc Short said Sun­day that many Chris­tian vot­ers “take great grat­i­tude” that Don­ald Trump is pres­i­dent.

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