Donald Trump pandered to the religious right to get their support — but in private, he is mocking Mike Pence for sharing the same beliefs.
Donald Trump has openly pandered to the religious right, and selected Mike Pence as his running mate to appeal to these voters, but a new report shows that behind closed doors, he mocks them just like he demeans everybody else.
A new report in The New Yorker reveals that on multiple occasions, Trump has ridiculed Pence for positions he shares with the Christian right — on abortion, prayer, and LGBT equal rights. It’s clear that when the cameras are off, Trump shows his true disdain for the religious right, even while publicly claiming to be ideologically in lockstep with them.
On abortion, for example, Trump mocked Pence for his singular focus on trying to restrict access to safe, legal abortion. When a legal scholar explained that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, many states would act to protect and legalize abortion access, Trump said to Pence, “You see? You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.”
That’s a far cry from the image Trump portrayed on the campaign trail. Trump repeatedly said he was “pro-life,” suggested women who have abortions should be punished, and promised he would appoint judges who would restrict safe and legal abortions.
Trump mocked Pence for his so-called “religious liberty” agenda of codifying discrimination against LGBT people, even though Trump has frequently vowed that he too wants to protect this distorted concept of “religious liberty.”
Pence appeared on the Trump radar after championing so-called “religious freedom” legislation in Indiana, which would have enshrined discrimination against LGBT people. Trump privately mocked Pence for this as well, according to The New Yorker, pointing to Pence during a discussion of LGBT rights and saying, “Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!”
It’s a very different tone from the man who bragged of his church attendance by describing taking communion as an event where “I drink my little wine and have my little cracker” so “I feel cleansed.”
Trump’s familiarity with the Bible — which he often claimed was his favorite book — had already been revealed to be a complete lie. At Liberty, Trump referred to bible verse “Two Corinthians.” In private, he has shown a sneering dismissiveness toward prayer. A White House staffer revealed that Trump will ask visitors who meet with Pence, “Did Mike make you pray?”
Trump’s selection of Pence was, as The New York Times described it, a way to open up “a vast reservoir of good will with the Christian right,” by adding to his ticket someone who described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
Pence was exactly what Trump needed to secure support with the religious right voting bloc. Trump himself had been divorced twice, due to adulterous affairs he bragged about in leaks to New York tabloids. He had appeared in Playboy videos and spoke frequently about his sexual conquests and his “personal Vietnam” of avoiding STDs.
“Lots of conservative groups had questions about Trump,” his former strategist Steve Bannon said, but Pence joining the ticket, and in particular, his responses during the vice presidential debate, “answered those questions.”
Trump has kept up the ruse, recently appearing in front of hate groups at the “Values Voter Summit,” bragging that he had won the fake war on Christmas, and stating, “In America, we don’t worship government, we worship God.”
But when the cameras are off, he is mocking Pence, and through Pence, the voters that helped him to win the electoral college (but not the popular vote).
Trump is infamous for spouting off on everything under the sun, even issues he is woefully uninformed on. Yet Jane Mayer, the author of the New Yorker piece, reports that in a phone conversation, “When I asked Trump if he shared Pence’s deeply conservative social views, he became uncharacteristically silent.”
He was more than willing to pander to these voters to help him win. But his rhetoric in private shows something different. Like everyone else who isn’t Donald Trump, he has been happy to just use them to get what he wants.
His speeches and claims about being supportive of them — even while still backing anti-woman legislation that makes them happy — are a front, and more proof that he will simply say whatever it takes to win, without believing a word of it.