Donald Trump Tells Evangelicals He Handled Obama Ethnicity Question Better Than John McCain
DES MOINES – In front of several hundred evangelical Christians on Saturday, Donald J. Trump took a dig at Senator John McCain for a well-known incident in which Mr. McCain took away a microphone from a woman to correct her after she said that Barack Obama was an Arab.
Mr. Trump compared that episode to his own response on Thursday, when a man accused Mr. Obama of being a Muslim and not an American. Mr. Trump was widely criticized for not correcting the man, but he told the Iowa crowd that if he had, he would have been attacked for violating the man’s right to free speech. He referred to the 2008 episode when Mr. McCain, then the Republican presidential nominee, corrected a voter by telling her: “No, ma’am, no ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen.’’
“Remember the famous day when John McCain just ripped that microphone out of the woman’s hands,’’ Mr. Trump said, calling it “a little bit harsh.’’
“Does anybody really think it’s harsh?” he asked the crowd, and was answered by a round of applause.
Mr. Trump spoke at a candidate forum hosted by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a branch of the conservative organization founded by Ralph Reed.
In July, at another gathering of evangelicals in Iowa, Mr. Trump said Mr. McCain was “not a war hero” because he was captured in North Vietnam. He also raised some eyebrows at that event by saying he had never sought God’s forgiveness and seemed to make light of communion.
Mr. Trump, who leads among Republicans in Iowa polls, has recently lost some support among evangelicals to Ben Carson, a former surgeon.
Mr. Trump came to build bridges to evangelicals, who hold outsize influence in this state. He displayed a Bible and said: “I brought my Bible. You see, I’m better than you thought.”
The crowd responded with applause throughout a five-minute speech and 15 minutes of questions. Mr. Trump promised several times to protect religious liberty if he becomes president. “I will be great, I will protect you,’’ he said. “Believe me, I will protect you.’’