Trump Declines Values Voter Summit, Not Interested in Talking to Evangelicals, Tony Perkins Says
Republican presidential candidate and celebrity billionaire Donald Trump declined an invitation to speak at a prominent national gathering of social conservative voters hosted by the Family Research Council later this month in Washington, D.C.
FRC President Tony Perkins informed The Christian Post Wednesday that Trump, the current frontrunner among Republican presidential candidates, will not be attending FRC's Sept. 25-27 Values Voters Summit, even though other leading Republican candidates are scheduled to speak.
Although some polls have shown that the misogynistic real estate mogul who once favored abortion and carries liberal views on same-sex marriage has had no trouble gaining the support of Evangelicals, Perkins asserted that Trump's refusal to speak at the conference is a sign that he has no interest in conversing with Evangelicals.
"We have got the Values Voters Summit coming up and Donald Trump has passed. He is not going to come," Perkins said. "I think that is going to send a message to Evangelicals and values voters that he wants their support, but he is not really interested in having a conversation with them."
"I think that is probably about the time, in about three or four weeks, people are going to start thinking more seriously about this as we move forward into the year," Perkins continued. "[Trump's absense], whether it was intended to or not, it will send a message."
Despite Trump's inconsistent stances on social issues and his recent unwillingness to state his favorite Bible verse, Trump appears to be in good standing with Evangelical voters at the moment.
Trump finished first among white Republican-leaning Evangelical voters with 20 percent in a July Washington Post-ABC News national primary poll. A recent Monmouth University poll of Evangelical voters in Iowa has Trump in second behind retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 23 percent of the Evangelical vote.
Perkins feels that Trump's early success with Evangelical voters has a lot to do with the increasing anti-establishment sentiment among Evangelicals and other conservative Republicans. However, Trump is not the only non-politician candidate that could attract the anti-establishment voters.
"I have a daily radio program and I have people calling in, which gives me a good pulse of where the nation is and Evangelicals in particular. They are just sick and tired of politics as usual and the typical Republicans who will campaign on one thing and then when they get into office, they don't deliver," Perkins said. "They are tired of compromise. I think that is reflected in the fact that those who are doing the best right now in the Republican lineup are the non-political candidates. You got Trump, [Ben] Carson and [Carly] Fiorina."
"I think Ted Cruz, among those who have held office, is doing better because he has shown that he is not the typical politician," Perkins added. "His goal is to be a statesman and he is often times fighting against his own party."
Carson, Fiorina and Cruz are still scheduled to speak at the Values Voters Summit, along with every other Republican presidential candidate except Trump, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
"I think [Trump] is going to have to have conversations with Evangelicals and talk about issues they care about. He hasn't really done that in a way that is convincing," Perkins argued. "Could [Trump] make some progress with Evangelicals? I think he could if he tried, but I don't really see that happening right now."