We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

'He was in his face': Trump fumes over abortion, courts evangelicals

1 632 3492
14.02.2019

Sen. Christopher Coons (left) waits as Vice President Mike Pence (right) greets President Donald Trump during the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb 7. Trump had confronted Coons over the issue of abortion the previous evening. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

White House

A White House confrontation shows how the president has ramped up his interest in issues dear to his hard-core religious supporters.

By GABBY ORR

02/13/2019 07:22 PM EST

The night before last week’s National Prayer Breakfast, President Donald Trump was hosting religious leaders and lawmakers for dinner at the White House when he spotted Democratic Senator Chris Coons — and pounced.

Trump confronted the Delaware lawmaker — who attended the event as the Prayer Breakfast’s official Democratic co-chair — over the issue of abortion, creating a tense scene in the White House’s Blue Room, according to three sources familiar with the exchange.

Story Continued Below

Trump leaned in close to Coons, who calls himself “a practicing Christian and a devout Presbyterian,” and laced into the Democratic senator over controversial moves to extend the legal window for abortion that have roiled New York and Virginia politics in recent weeks. “He was in his face about it,” said one person familiar with the exchange. The person described Trump as extremely “worked up.”

Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.

By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.

“He saw a Democrat in the room, a Democrat who’s known to be a person of faith, and he was like, ‘Why aren't you speaking out about this?’” the source added.

Another source who was in the room confirmed the account, describing the moment as both “awkward” and attention-grabbing. Rarely has Trump been so vocal about abortion when the masses aren’t watching, this person said. (A Coons spokesman declined to comment.)

The private episode underscored Trump’s recent public focus on abortion, which has delighted his evangelical Christian supporters. During his State of the Union address last Tuesday, Trump used vivid imagery to claim that New York’s new abortion law would “allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.” And he accused Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who’s backed similar legislation in his state, of wanting to allow medical providers to “execute” babies after birth.

Abortion is a somewhat unlikely new cause for a president who years ago called himself “very pro-choice” and did not make the issue a central theme of his 2016 campaign. But people close to Trump say that he has developed an increasingly sincere passion for the cause.

That passion also conveniently dovetails with what they call a concerted recent effort to energize white evangelicals........

© Politico