WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two prominent religious conservatives defended U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday after he was widely criticized for blaming both white nationalists and counter-protesters for last weekend’s violence at a Virginia rally organized by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Evangelical Christian Jerry Falwell Jr said Trump could be more polished and politically correct but is not racist. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who last week criticized the white nationalists’ “evil, sinful, disgusting behavior,” said unequivocally on Sunday that the faith community stood by Trump.
The responses reflect a balancing act by conservative Christians as they try to square the images that emerged from the Virginia city of Charlottesville last weekend – torch-carrying white supremacists and neo-Nazis toting swastika flags – with support for a president that failed to condemn them roundly and immediately.
Trump alienated fellow Republicans, corporate leaders and U.S. allies with his comments about the violence that broke out at a white nationalist protest against the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville. He said “many sides” were to blame and that there were “very fine people” on both sides.