Christians at Faith Conference Say Trump Was Not Himself

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump attended the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend, and attendees said the candidate changed his tune during his speech on Friday. Supporters and opponents disagreed on whether the change was good or bad, but nearly all of them agreed it wasn't the same Trump.

One Ted Cruz supporter actually compared The Donald's campaign to the rise of Adolf Hitler, saying that 20th century totalitarian dictators consciously altered their rhetoric to gain power in exactly the way Trump is doing now. Most other attendees just accepted it as politics-as-usual. Some supporters said that they missed the pre-conference Trump, but some welcomed the new, more restrained, more "presidential" candidate.

A few weeks ago, "he was blatant, he was the truth, he was the Trump that everybody knows. Yesterday, when he came here -- that's not the Trump I know," Jalen Johnson, a high school senior in Georgia who has frequented many of The Donald's rallies, told PJ Media in an interview on Saturday. "He was doing what the establishment -- he was talking based on how they want him to speak."

"If you noticed yesterday, he brought up something about race. Donald Trump never talks about anything dealing with race," Johnson added. As a black teen, he said he doesn't know "one black person who would attend a Trump rally, who would attend a Republican convention, who would vote Republican," except himself.

Trump's sudden discussion of race "kind of shocked me," Johnson said. "I'm starting to see a different Donald Trump I don't like."

But other supporters appreciated the change. Cindy Flakoll, legislative liaison at Concerned Women for America in South Dakota, argued that The Donald is "on a learning curve." She said the change in tone she witnessed at Trump's speech on Friday was further evidence giving her hope that he will end up a conservative champion, were he to be elected president.

Flakoll mentioned the pro-life issue as an example. "When he started, he was pretty wobbly on it, and all of us long-time pro-life, pro-family folks were pretty nervous," she admitted. "Then he gave his personal story about a friend who'd had a child who might have been aborted but wasn't," and she found it convincing. Flakoll added that she knows the activists Trump hired in Iowa, and she knows them to be solid conservatives.

Melissa Ortiz, founder of the disabled advocacy organization Able Americans, also saw The Donald's speech, and said, "He was very fake, he wasn't himself." Ortiz recalled meeting Trump for the first time, years ago.

"He said everybody knows people with disabilities and Wounded Warriors don't have any money to spend anyway, so why do they need to be in my high-end buildings? And I've seen the way that some of you wheelchair people drive, you'll knock all the finishings off the walls," Ortiz confided. "That's a problem because it shows a mindset. He doesn't view us as sub-human, but as less than others. I don't know anybody in the community of people with disabilities who's good with that."

Self-published author Rhonda Moorman said Trump's remarks showed the candidate "maturing as a politician." She argued that "he was much more measured and presidential, and I'm glad to see it." Nevertheless, she also favored the old Trump. "I like the other side too -- a kind of red meat thing."

Ortiz proved rather hostile to The Donald. She openly called for a delegate revolt at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, Ohio, next month, saying it was "not outside the realm of possibility" that Republican insiders reject Trump as the nominee, last minute. She also chided religious leaders for supporting Trump at the faith voters conference.

"He doesn't support biblical values, he doesn't live biblical values," Ortiz declared. "This is a faith voters conference. How can we do this?!"

Next Page: How conference attendees squared support for Donald Trump with the Christian faith.