Penny Nance was one of the most outspoken evangelical critics of Donald Trump last December when the Republican presidential candidate first said he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, argued then that “our Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves right now.” She said the ban was wrong but also expressed concern that at a time when “evangelical Christians are viewed less and less favorably,” any targeting of an entire religion was “a slippery slope” and could become a precedent for use against Christians themselves in the future.
Six weeks later, she was one of 10 female anti-abortion leaders to sign a letter urging Iowa Republicans to “support anyone but Donald Trump.” The letter said Trump “cannot be trusted” to appoint conservative judges and added, “as women, we are disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women, in particular.”
“America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women,” Nance and the other women wrote. “We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either.”
But now, Nance is one of the chief organizers of a meeting next week between Trump and what she says will be 800 evangelical leaders and activists in New York City.
Nance is working with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and former presidential candidate Ben Carson, who has endorsed Trump, to convene the meeting. Trump will speak to the group and then take questions, Nance told Yahoo News. For some, it will be a moment to decide whether or not to support Trump, Nance said. Others will be deciding whether they can volunteer and try to persuade others to vote for Trump.
Though Nance noted in an interview with Yahoo News that she has “not endorsed Donald Trump at this point,” her new role is still a dramatic reversal for her.
She explained her change of heart not by defending Trump, but by arguing that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is simply worse.
On the “dignity of women,” Nance said that Trump “still has work to do in gaining the support of American women, but I would strongly suggest that Hillary too has a complicated history with women.”
“She was part of the Clinton machine that demeaned and defamed victims of sexual harassment at the hands of her husband,” Nance said.
Nance continues to strongly disagree with Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from the U.S.
“What I said all along was that was extremely short-sighted for Christians to say that, considering our values are becoming more out of fashion and our religion’s freedoms are being threatened. It’s extremely shortsighted,” Nance said. “But at the same time I want my country to be safe. After Orlando, we’ve got a problem.”
She admitted that Trump hadn’t said much about what he would do to stop terrorism. “I don’t know until he gets in there what all he can do,” she said. “But what we’re doing now isn’t working. I haven’t heard one thing Hillary has said to think she’s going to do any better.”
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