On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump tried to shore up his standing among conservative Christians by attending church Sunday and bringing his wife, a rare campaign appearance for her.
Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the evangelical Liberty University in Virginia, vouched for Trump’s moral fiber at a school rally with the Republican presidential candidate in Council Bluffs on the western edge of Iowa.
Falwell recalled that Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor who divorced and remarried before he unseated President Carter in 1980, making an implicit comparison to Trump, who is a reality television star who has married three times.
“Carter was a great Sunday school teacher, but look how he did as president,” Falwell said.
Trump, the New York billionaire, and his wife, Melania, attended services at First Christian Church in Council Bluffs before the rally, where she made brief remarks.
“Hello, Iowa, it’s great to be here,” she told the crowd, then echoed her husband while advocating for his candidacy: “He will be unbelievable – the best deal-maker, the best master negotiator.”
Trump’s last burst of campaigning in conservative western Iowa came as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and at least two super PACs run scathing television ads highlighting his past support for abortion rights and government-funded healthcare.
At the Council Bluffs rally, Trump attacked Cruz for a mailer sent to Iowans telling them they had committed a “violation” by failing to cast ballots in previous elections and urging them to participate in the caucuses Monday.
“It’s so dishonest,” Trump said.
Iowa’s Republican secretary of state, Paul Pate, said Cruz’s mailing “misrepresents Iowa election law,” but Cruz declined to apologize for it, insisting he was using every tool he had to encourage voters to cast ballots.