Mar 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

DNC chair Tom Perez: I don't know "what faith" Trump supporters follow

In an interview with "Axios on HBO," DNC chair Tom Perez said he "doesn't know what faith" supporters of President Trump are worshipping when they go to church after going to Trump rallies.

Driving the news: "I think the challenge that I see among a lot of people that go to Donald Trump rallies, and then they will go to church on Sunday, and I'm not ... I don't know what faith they are worshipping," Perez said in an interview recorded last week on a swing through Florida.

  • "Donald Trump has done more to hurt the least of us among us than just about any president I can think of."

The big picture: Perez made these comments after I asked him about a Catholic leader's criticism of statements Perez had made about Democrats and abortion rights.

  • In 2017, shortly after taking over leadership of the Democratic Party, Perez said that every Democrat, no matter where they live, must support a woman's right to choose. He said such support was "not negotiable."

The key exchange:

  • Question: "Cardinal Timothy Dolan is a leader of the Catholic Church in America. He wrote this after you made those comments: 'It saddens me and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us.'"
  • Perez: "Well, actually the majority of Catholics voted for Democrats in 2016. ... You know, Matthew 25 is a pretty important teaching. And Matthew 25 says, you know, when you are hungry, I fed you. When you were naked, I provided you with clothing. When you were an immigrant, I welcomed you. I think one of the reasons why so many people are moving away from Donald Trump is that he's abandoned all of those values.

Fact check: The Catholic vote was closely split between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016. Exit polls indicated Trump won more of the Catholic vote, but subsequent analysis had Clinton slightly ahead.

Between the lines: I had first asked Perez how he reconciled his position that all Democrats must support abortion rights with the success of the Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. Edwards was the only Democrat to win statewide in the Deep South in the 2018 midterms.

  • Perez said he "profoundly" disagreed with Edwards' stance on abortion. Last year, Edwards signed one of the country's strictest abortion laws.
  • But when asked if Edwards should "hand in his Democrat card," Perez said no. He added that he will continue to speak up about abortion rights because "it's a really important issue."
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