One of the many strange aspects of this election has been how Donald Trump has won over the religious vote. While Trump never appeared to have much interest in religion in the past, Hillary Clinton is one of the most religious politicians in public life. She spent her years in the Senate working with The Fellowship, supporting an increased role for religion in public policy. However, while generally conservative on social and cultural issues, she fails the right wing litmus test on reproductive rights. This is clearly a far greater sin to the religious right than Donald Trump’s admitted abuse of women.
As I noted yesterday, the release of the tapes in which Trump discussed his abuse of women led to the condemnation from many Republicans, but at least one representative of the religious right did not alter his support for Trump: “One of Trump’s most prominent social-conservative supporters, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, told BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray: ‘My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values.'”
Buzzfeed found another representative of the religious right who continues to back Trump:
“Voters of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defend religious freedom, create jobs, and oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” Faith and Freedom Coalition president Ralph Reed said in an email to BuzzFeed News. “Ten-year-old tapes of private conversation with a television talk show host rank very low on their hierarchy of concerns.”
Asked if he had any comment on the tape itself and if he was definitely standing by Trump, Reed said, “I think the statement is self explanatory.”
Ben Carson also defended Trump:
“Dr. Carson believes that people can change and be better,” Carson aide Armstrong Williams told BuzzFeed News in an interview. “You know, these things happen. I’m sure somebody could find a video of Bill Clinton talking like this — are we gonna say Bill Clinton was the same person as president that he is today? Obviously not.”
Armstrong continued, “People commit adultery. It happens. Ministers. Heads of state. Everyday people. People are human, they do human things. It’s nothing unusual that somebody committed adultery on their spouse. Women do it. Men do it. Should we be shocked by it? No.”
…He concluded the interview by saying, “Hey, the flesh can be weak, my man.”
While it is possible that Bill Clinton has also talked like this, it is worth remembering, as Buzzfeed pointed out, “Republicans frequently argued in the ’90s that Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was disqualifying in part because presidents should be held to a higher moral standard.”
Several Republicans, including Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Jon Huntsman have called on Trump to drop out of the race. While this is unlikely to happen, I have previously posted some interesting links in this post on the ramifications of a candidate dropping out.
I think that Trump already had little chance of winning the election (unless something major happened which was favorable to him). The tape therefore probably won’t change the presidential election result. However it does put the entire GOP in a bigger hole. Previously it looked like the nomination of Clinton seriously hurt the chances for the Democrats to take control of the Senate. That might now be a possibility again.