As part of Donald Trump’s “pivot” to being more presidential, his campaign has decided he needs to do a better job of pandering to right-wing, Evangelical Christians. This week, he met with deeply religious right-wing pundit Cal Thomas to help him demonstrate his faith. It was an instant and spectacular trainwreck.
It’s often been noted that Trump seems to do zero preparation for interviews, and apparently that includes even giving a cursory glance at the religion he’s supposedly a member of. After Thomas and Trump get the perfunctory Obama bashing out of the way and get down to Christianity, Trump was quite clearly way out of his comfort zone. This was due, in large part, to the fact that Trump is a narcissist and pretending he’s humble is hard for him. It led to this hilarious exchange:
CT: Every president has called upon God at some point. Lincoln spoke of not being able to hold the office of the presidency without spending time on his knees. You have confessed that you are a Christian …
DT: And I have also won much evangelical support.
CT: Yes, I know that. You have said you never felt the need to ask for God’s forgiveness, and yet repentance for one’s sins is a precondition to salvation. I ask you the question Jesus asked of Peter: Who do you say He is?
DT: I will be asking for forgiveness, but hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness. As you know, I am Presbyterian and Protestant. I’ve had great relationships and developed even greater relationships with ministers. We have tremendous support from the clergy. I think I will be doing very well during the election with evangelicals and with Christians.
Note that Trump can’t even bother to feign an interest in religion when it doesn’t mean bringing up how popular he is. For him, Christians are little more than another group of people Trump can cite to glorify himself. It would be sad if it weren’t so obvious.
However, the interview concluded with a particularly insane exchange between Thomas and Trump. Because this interview was ostensibly designed to prove Trump is a faithful Christian, the last question is a softball lobbed over the plate. Trump not only missed the ball, he leaned in and took the pitch right to the face.
CT: Who do you say Jesus is?
DT: Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence. Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind.
Walking away from this interview, it’s not entirely clear Donald Trump knows who Jesus actually was. His answer was…weird, to say the least. Of course, each Christian has their own version of what Jesus best represents, but the idea that Trump focuses on “bravery, security, and courage” makes one wonder if he got him confused with Alexander the Great or Napoleon. Or Trump’s image of himself.
Featured image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images