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."

Go deeper

Exclusive: DNC chair says he's "not contemplating" an online convention

In an interview with "Axios on HBO," Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez flatly denied that he was even entertaining the idea of canceling July's Democratic convention in Milwaukee and replacing it with an online convention due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Driving the news: In the interview, which was taped Monday in Florida and will air Sunday night at 6pm ET/PT, I asked Perez whether he would cancel the Democratic convention given that major companies are canceling events across the country because of the virus. "No," Perez replied.

Brett Kavanaugh's first big abortion case

Kavanaugh at his swearing-in ceremony in 2018. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Supreme Court this week will wade into its first big abortion case since Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the bench.

Why it matters: It will give us the clearest indication yet of just how quickly and aggressively the newly expanded conservative majority is likely to move in curtailing abortion rights.

Hillary Clinton: Bernie Sanders is the weaker candidate against Trump

Screenshot: CNN's "GPS"

Hillary Clinton said Sunday on CNN's "GPS" that she will not endorse a candidate for president, but that she does not believe Bernie Sanders is "our strongest nominee against Donald Trump."

Why it matters: Clinton would not say whether she would campaign for Sanders if he wins the nomination, saying, "I don't know if he would ask me to campaign for him, because I have no idea what he is thinking about for a general election campaign." However, she stipulated that she would "support" whoever wins the nomination.