Donald Trump, Thursday, urged evangelical Christians to rally behind him in a speech seeking to ease their concerns about the Republican presidential nominee and proclaiming that sending him to the White House is crucial for the future of their movement. Trump tried to draw a direct distinction between himself and Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, who would have become the nation’s first Mormon president. Echoing some post-2012 analysis suggesting that Romney’s religion led some evangelicals to stay home, Trump said “religion didn’t get out and vote” for the former governor.
Adding to party leaders’ worries, Trump signaled in a television interview that he does not intend to change the way he campaigns, despite fears that his proclivity for picking distracting fights could cost him the election. In Orlando, he spoke to leaders of evangelical Christian groups, some of whom have privately expressed skepticism about Mormons. Trump stressed his difficulties in the country’s only majority-Mormon state - making an apparent play for support by noting that he has a “tremendous problem” in Utah.
The New York real-estate developer told the audience, a gathering of influential pastors hosted by the American Renewal Project, that they have a “chance to do something that will be earth-shaking” this fall. But they must ensure strong turnout at the polls, he said.
“You’ve got to get your people out to vote,” he said. Trump called Utah “a different place” and asked whether anyone in the crowd was from the state. “I didn’t think so,” he said. Some laughed.
Trailing in the polls, Trump can ill-afford to lose support among Christian conservatives nationwide. He must find a way to prevent Utah from slipping away as he faces a daunting electoral map with little margin for error.