- (Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts
A new poll confirms that business mogul Donald Trump leads among moderate and liberal Republicans. However, evangelist Franklin Graham's recent remarks show that conservative supporters might not be far behind.
An April 15-20 Gallup poll, released Monday, shows that the GOP momentum for Trump is rising. Trump is tied with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for the top spot as the preferred Republican nominee for president. Trump holds the highest percentage of support – 21 percent – among moderate and liberal Republicans than any other ring-wing contender.
Huckabee, a former minister, has 21 percent of conservative voters' support, the highest percentage of all the contenders, Trump included.
However, more conservative voters may be changing their mind about Trump. At 13 percent, Trump has a higher percentage of conservative supporters than Tea Party favorites Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.
During an ABC News interview, which aired Sunday, Graham told the television news outlet that he finds Trump to be "very capable" and admitted his view of him has changed.
"Donald Trump, when I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, well, this has got to be a joke. But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, 'You know? Maybe the guy's right,'" said Graham.
Trump, who has been considering a presidential run since February, has questioned President Barack Obama's origin of birth and his unwillingness to produce a certificate. In his interview, Graham also alluded to the point that Obama should show his birth certificate, commenting that the birther issue "could be solved very quickly."
Graham also asserted that although Obama is "a very nice man," the country is in "big trouble" under his leadership.
Similarly, Trump has weighed in on Obama's presidency, telling ABC News that "the country has never been so weak." He said the United States is struggling economically because of its focus on policing the world rather than focusing on reclaiming jobs from other countries such as China.
The businessman and television celebrity has also proclaimed that he is pro-life and supports marriage between a man and a woman only.
"Clearly, he's gotten the attention of social conservatives,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told The Christian Post.
Perkins said social conservatives find Trump's willingness to speak clearly about his positions to the media "refreshing." He also believes that Trump's statements about abortion and traditional marriage are consistent with his actions. Perkins referred to Trump's open support of Miss California Carrie Prejean after she expressed her traditional beliefs on marriage during the 2009 Miss USA pageant as an example of his consistency.
The FRC head also noted that Trump has established credibility in business that other politicians, namely Obama, lack. "He's run several companies," Perkins said of Trump. Commenting on the other politicians, he said, "They've only run their mouths."
In essence, Trump has addressed all of the key issues social conservatives are interested in, said Perkins.
Many still remain critical of Trump, questioning whether he is a serious candidate. Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele condemned Trump's focus on the birth issue as silly during a broadcast on MSNBC's Hardball.
"America is on a collision course with its future," said Steele. "Whether or not we're really going to be substantive about the debt and the deficits that we face or are we going to play here on the playground with each other on silly issues."
Additionally, socially conservative voters may also find room for criticism in his personal past as a two–time divorcee on his third marriage and his faith as a "Sunday church person."
Perkins admitted that conservatives are still getting to know Trump. However, he said Trump is "qualifying himself for further consideration" among conservatives.
Trump may get his big chance in October. According to Perkins, Trump has accepted an invitation to speak at the 2011 Values Voter Summit. "My summation from our conversation is he is going to be a serious candidate," Perkins noted.
An earlier CNN/ Opinion Research Corporation poll also showed Trump being tied with Huckabee as a GOP candidate. He is expected to announce his decision on a presidential run by June.