Friday, August 12, 2016

Donald Trump Seek Help from 700 Evangelical Pastors in America

Facing one of the toughest stretches of his presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump on Thursday acknowledged in unusually candid terms that he faced daunting hurdles in crucial states, as he swung wildly at Hillary Clinton to try to blunt her questions about his fitness to serve in the Oval Office.



Sliding in the polls, and under attack even by prominent figures in his own party, the usually self-assured Mr. Trump seemed to break character, lamenting his predicament, and even asking for help, before a group of 700 evangelical pastors and church leaders in Orlando, Fla.

“We’re having a tremendous problem in Utah,” Mr. Trump said, alluding to polls showing him in a fight with Mrs. Clinton in that normally deep-red state. “Utah is different.”

In Ohio, Mr. Trump said, “We need help.”

In Pennsylvania, a state he once insisted he would win, he seemed now to hold out hope of an upset that was looking more like a long-shot. “Pennsylvania is a little further, but I think we’ll win Pennsylvania because of the miners,” he said, adding of Mrs. Clinton: “She wants the miners out of business. She wants steel out of business.”

And in Virginia, Mr. Trump said, the result would depend on whether evangelical Christian voters turn out to support him in November. In 2012, he said, evangelicals nationally did not vote in sufficiently large numbers for Mitt Romney.

“Had you voted for Romney, it would have been much closer,” he told his audience. “You didn’t vote for Romney, the evangelicals. Religion didn’t get out and vote.”

Mr. Trump pleaded with pastors and church leaders to organize their congregants and impress upon them the stakes in the election. “We’re going to hopefully win, and the way we’re going to win is you have to get your congregations and you have to get parishioners and you have to get all your people to go out and vote,” he said.

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In the same speech, Mr. Trump repeated a hyperbolic claim that he made about Mrs. Clinton on Wednesday and all day Thursday: that she should be seen as aligning herself with enemies of the United States.

As his detractors have described a Trump presidency as a grave threat to the United States, citing his statements calling into question longstanding national security policies and alliances and even his commitment to the Constitution, Mr. Trump is now trying to outdo those accusations with his own warnings about the danger Mrs. Clinton would present.

Where Mrs. Clinton and many Democrats have accused Mr. Trump of parroting President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, for example, Mr. Trump is calling Mrs. Clinton a “founder” of the Islamic State.

Instead of saying that her policies as secretary of state helped contribute to the group’s rise — a claim many Republicans have made — Mr. Trump said she should be named the Islamic State’s “most valuable player” for having done so.

At the same time, Mr. Trump is accusing Mrs. Clinton, without evidence, of intending to abolish the Second Amendment — something that she denies and would be constitutionally unable to do as president.

Mr. Trump suggested that turnabout was fair play, mocking Democrats for crying foul for his remarks about Mrs. Clinton and the Islamic State.

“They said it about me, it’d be fine,” he said in Orlando. “If I say something about them, it’s terrible.”

Still, these exaggerated claims have drawn attention away from issues that Mr. Trump’s campaign could reasonably hope to gain traction against Mrs. Clinton: He has made only fleeting reference to recently released State Department emails revealing efforts to obtain a meeting for a political supporter, a subject the Clinton campaign has sought to avoid.

The speech to pastors was not the only instance in which Mr. Trump sounded less than cocksure: In an interview with CNBC, he acknowledged the possibility that he could lose, but insisted that he would stick with his unorthodox campaign style.

“At the end, it’s either going to work or I’m going to, you know, I’m going to have a very, very nice long vacation,” said Mr. Trump, who has rarely before conceded the possibility of defeat.

The ratcheted-up attacks on Mrs. Clinton — and on President Obama, who was also accused by Mr. Trump of being a “founder of ISIS” at a rally in Sunrise, Fla., on Wednesday night — came after Mr. Trump’s advisers suggested that he had achieved a new level of discipline in delivering a fairly comprehensive economic address on Monday in Detroit.

Then on Tuesday, Mr. Trump warned a crowd in North Carolina that it would be “a horrible day” if Mrs. Clinton were elected and picked a tiebreaking justice for the Supreme Court.

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, adding: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

The remark set off a wave of criticism from Democrats and others who said Mr. Trump had been suggesting violence against Mrs. Clinton or the judges she might appoint. Mr. Trump angrily denied this.

On CNBC on Thursday, when an interviewer pressed Mr. Trump on the propriety of claiming that Mr. Obama had founded the Islamic State, Mr. Trump said it was “absolutely” the case and added: “Is there something wrong with saying that? Are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?”

Later, in an interview with the radio host Hugh Hewitt, Mr. Trump was given an opportunity to clarify, but did not budge.

“You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace,” Mr. Hewitt suggested, leaving Mr. Trump an opening.

“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do,” Mr. Trump said. “He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”

Mr. Hewitt replied, “But he’s not sympathetic to them,” referring to President Obama. “He hates them. He’s trying to kill them.”

“I don’t care,” Mr. Trump said. “He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that, that was the founding of ISIS, O.K.?”

Jake Sullivan, a senior policy adviser for Mrs. Clinton, accused Mr. Trump of “echoing the talking points” of America’s adversaries.

“This is another example of Donald Trump trash-talking the United States,” Mr. Sullivan said in a statement. “It goes without saying that this is a false claim from a presidential candidate with an aversion to the truth and an unprecedented lack of knowledge.”

Undeterred, Mr. Trump pressed the line of attack during a speech to the National Association of Home Builders in Miami Beach.

“Our government has unleashed ISIS,” Mr. Trump said, drawing little response. “I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. They’re the founders. I think I’ll give Hillary Clinton most valuable player, the M.V.P. award. Her only competition is Barack Obama.”


Courtesy: nytimes

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