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Faith Leaders Are Still Backing Trump In The Wake Of His Lewd Comments About Women


We're going to turn now to Ralph Reed, who is chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a member of Donald Trump's religious advisory board. Mr. Reed, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

RALPH REED: You bet, Scott. Good to be with you.

SIMON: Are you still with Donald Trump?

REED: Yes, I am.

SIMON: Does it bother you - this tape? I mean...

REED: Sure, sure.

SIMON: He covets another man's wife - cheat on his on his own wife, who is pregnant at the time.

REED: No, I mean, sure, it does. The comments were offensive and inappropriate. As the father of two daughters myself, I didn't appreciate them. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible teaches, to quote a verse from the New Testament, that we're to treat older women as our mothers and younger women as sisters in all purity, And I'm - and I'm glad that Donald Trump swiftly apologized for them and then recorded the video last night restating his apology in even stronger terms.

But the reality is, Scott, that the roughly one out of every four voters that are conservative people of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, who's going to defend religious freedom, who's going to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court, grow the economy, create jobs and oppose the Iran nuclear deal, which we believe poses an existential threat to Israel and which Hillary Clinton helped to negotiate. And I think given the stakes in this election and those and other critical issues, I just don't think an audiotape of an 11-year-old private conversation with an entertainment talk show host on a tour bus, for which the candidate has apologized profusely, is likely to rank high on the hierarchy of concerns of those faith-based voters.

SIMON: Did he apologize profusely? I mean, I heard him say, I apologize, but then he went into criticizing Bill Clinton.

REED: I think he not only apologized, I think he himself said that the comments were indefensible. And he said that people who know him know that they are not reflective of his views. And I will tell you that...

SIMON: But his views - I mean, he talked about his own - he was proud of his own predatory behavior. Those aren't just views. He says that he's learned through interactions - I'll put it delicately - that he could take advantage of his celebrity.

REED: Look, I don't want to put words in Donald Trump's mouth, but I think it was quite clear from his video statement that he was saying they're not reflective of either his attitudes or behavior today. And as somebody who knows him and has known him for seven years, I don't have any concerns whatsoever that that's the Donald Trump who's name is going to be on the ballot on November 8. And I will also tell you this - I have two daughters. They are over the age of 18. They are fine young women - dignified. They were raised in a home where they were treated with dignity and respect.

They are more than capable of making their own decisions, and they are both voting for Donald Trump because of the issues that I just talked about - defending the unborn, standing by Israel, growing the economy, creating jobs, defending religious liberty. We've got a vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the question is - are we going to get a liberal who is going to support abortion on demand and undermine religious freedom? Or are we going to have somebody who's going to stand by those things?

SIMON: Mr. Reed, in the...

REED: That does not mean these comments don't matter, but on the hierarchy of concerns, this is pretty low.

SIMON: I have to ask you a last question, though since, you've mentioned your daughters twice. If they came to you and said, I've got a job in Donald Trump's campaign. I'm going to travel with him, wouldn't you as a father feel you had to warn him?

REED: No, I don't. I told you - I've interacted with him. I know him. I've been at events with my daughters with him. I don't believe that these comments - they were highly inappropriate, and they are deeply offensive. But they were 11 years ago, and I do not believe they are reflective of who the man is, his attitudes or behaviors today. If I did, I wouldn't be supporting him.

SIMON: Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, thanks so much for being with us.

REED: You bet, Scott. Good to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.