WASHINGTON To hear President Trump address the countrys premier anti-abortion event, youd hardly recall this same president has racked up an astonishing string of personal sex scandals, including even criminal investigations of hush-money payments to multiple women that remain unresolved.
But when Trump became the first U.S. president to ever personally appear at the March for Life on Friday in downtown Washington, none of that mattered.
Trump rolled up, and said everything they wanted to hear. And the crowd of thousands went nuts for it.
Every child is a precious and sacred gift from god, Trump said. When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of gods creation.
For many of Trumps evangelical and Catholic supporters, his full-throated endorsement of the March for Life movement is the thing that makes his long, long history of personal peccadillos, divorces, affairs, ungodliness, lies, and sex scandals never mind that he once identified as pro-choice fade into the distant background. Trump announced his historic decision to attend the event in a surprise Tweet on Wednesday, the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And when he hit the stage, he didn’t disappoint.
The crowd roared whenever Trump name-checked anti-abortion groups like Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns thats been challenging the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Thats the signature healthcare policy of Trumps predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
His appearance was scripted, yet more comfortable than he sometimes looks when reading from a teleprompter. He didnt curse. He didnt use schoolyard taunts. He spoke the language of the true believers.
We see the splendor that radiates from each human soul, Trump told the crowd. As the Bible tells us, each person is wonderfully made.
Viewers watching on cable news could see a split-screen image of Trump waxing lyrical about defending the unborn, while House Democrats held a press conference to accuse Trump of stomping on the Constitution by pressuring a foreign country, Ukraine, to investigate his possible 2020 election opponent, Joe Biden. Nearby, on Capitol Hill, Trumps Senate impeachment trial over the Ukraine scandal kicked off again moments after he finished speaking.
But at the rally, attendees heard Trump boast that unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.
To many of his listeners, that particular boast rang true including Olivia Duesenberg, a 21-year-old student from Colorado Christian University and a faithful evangelical.
Strong Christian faith and and support for the anti-abortion movement represent the most important thing Duesenberg looks for in a candidate, she told VICE News.
He gets a lot of flack for saying the stupid things that he does, Duesenberg said of President Trump. But in all honesty, hes done a lot for the economy. Hes done a lot for business. And hes done a lot for the pro-life movement.
Asked if Trumps tweets bother her, Duesenberg replied: Absolutely.
Trump hasnt just appointed two conservative Supreme Court justices, helping ensure the high courts rightward majority for perhaps a generation. Hes appointed more than a quarter of the countrys federal appeals judges, too.
Hes blocked abortion providers from participating in Title X, the only federal program dedicated to family planning. Thats forced Planned Parenthood out of the program, costing the reproductive healthcare giant the anti-abortion movements biggest boogeyman an estimated tens of millions of dollars.
James Griffith, 19, said he doesnt necessarily believe reports of Trumps bad behavior, anyway.
I think we can all agree that some of the media is very slanted, said Griffith, who came to the march with his church. You dont know [if] what you heard is true about him either, and what he may have done and what he hasnt. So Im in full support of him.
And as long as Trump opposes abortion, Griffith said: Hes got my vote just on that.
Cover: Supporters listen as President Donald Trump speaks during the annual “March for Life” rally on the National Mall, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)