While interviewing former Senator Rick Santorum on Wednesday’s edition of New Day, co-host Chris Cuomo repeatedly accused evangelicals of hypocrisy for standing by President Trump in spite of the accusations of sexual misconduct and infidelity against him.
Cuomo began the interview by pointing to a poll showing that while a plurality of evangelical voters believe the women who accuse President Trump of sexual misconduct, an overwhelming 68 percent of evangelicals still approve of President Trump’s job performance. CNN’s exit polls show that President Trump won 80 percent of the evangelical vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. The morning show host asked Santorum to shed some light on “the apparent hypocrisy by your evangelical brothers and sisters.” While Santorum supports socially conservative policies and did very well with evangelical voters in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, it should be noted that Santorum is a Catholic, not an evangelical.
Santorum responded to Cuomo by acknowledging that “every Christian understands that we are all sinners and we all make mistakes” and added that many Christians evaluate politicians based on how they “behave on the issues that we have elected them to deal with.” Santorum admitted that “yes, they are in effect choosing policy over personal.”
Cuomo did not like Santorum’s answer, bringing up how evangelicals and Santorum himself behaved when accusations of sexual misconduct and adultery put the Clinton presidency on the rocks. The anchor told Santorum that he asked Clinton to resign because of his impending impeachment. Cuomo once again accused evangelicals of hypocrisy, apparently for not asking President Trump to resign: “So when it suits the politics, the piety is great. And when it doesn’t suit the politics, the piety is easily excused. And that is hypocrisy.”
Santorum argued that the hypocrisy applies to both sides: “look at the #MeToo movement, and where were they when Bill Clinton was doing this?” One can’t help but wonder if the #MeToo movement would even exist at all had Hillary Clinton won the presidency, as that would have made the left’s hypocrisy blatantly obvious; they may very well have not decided to “see the light” on widespread sexual misconduct because they would have had a very hard time defending the behavior of the “First Dude.”
While Cuomo made it sound like President Clinton was impeached because of his extramarital affairs, Santorum explained to Cuomo that “the reason he (Bill Clinton) was impeached was not...his affairs, it was actually lying under oath.” Liberals and the media know this; that’s exactly why they want President Trump to testify about his affairs, hoping that he walks into the same perjury trap that led to President Clinton’s impeachment. Cuomo lamented that “all of a sudden, everything is forgivable.”
A transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more:
CHRIS CUOMO: Evangelical voters standing by the President even though you’re hearing about the Stormy Daniels and all these other scandals. In fact, in a recent CNN poll, 40 percent of Evangelical voters say they believe the women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct, 36 percent believe the President. Evangelicals, however, overwhelmingly still approve of President Trump as President, 68 percent. Let’s discuss this kind of obvious disconnect between these feelings and this behavior with former Republican U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and CNN Senior Political Commentator Rick Santorum. Thank you for joining us, sir.
RICK SANTORUM: Good morning, Chris. How are you?
CUOMO: Help me understand this apparent hypocrisy by your evangelical brothers and sisters. They seem to just be choosing policy over piety all of a sudden.
SANTORUM: Well, I don’t know if it’s all of a sudden. I mean, I think every, every Christian understands that we are all sinners and we all make mistakes and we all do things that we shouldn’t do, and we, it’s why as a Catholic, as you know, we have confession. You know, we go there to confess our sins and that, and we should probably go every day. So I think everybody, there is a difference understanding that, you know, people are broken, people fail, people do a lot of bad things. And then the question is but how do they behave on the issues that we’ve elected them to deal with. And I think that’s, yes, they are in effect choosing policy over personal.
CUOMO: Yeah but I don’t think it’s that clean cut a distinction, especially for this group of voters. Look, you were in there during the Clinton years, okay? This was not what was being said by this voting bloc then. This was not what was being said by you back then. You remember, you called for Clinton to resign because he was going to be impeached and Lewinsky was too big a cloud over everything, he had to go. So, when it suits the politics, the piety is great. And when it doesn’t suit the politics, the piety is easily excused. And that is hypocrisy.
SANTORUM: Well, I...that sort of goes on both sides. I mean, how many people were...
CUOMO: Let’s just talk about this side because they’ve made this their currency. This is why they are better than I am because their faith comes first, Rick. Where is it now?
SANTORUM: I disagree. I mean, you know, the piety on, you know, look at the #MeToo movement, and where were they when Bill Clinton was doing this? So they, look, let’s just be honest about all of this. I mean, you’re right. The politics seem to trump everything these days and unfortunately, that is the case. As you’ve seen me on this network, I’ve not been any apologist for Donald Trump’s actions when they, when they go out of bounds and I wasn’t...
CUOMO: Yeah but you’re not going out of your way to talk about him with these affairs either, like the way you did with Bill Clinton.
SANTORUM: Well, I didn’t talk about Bill Clinton’s affairs as much as I talked about Bill Clinton and the reason he was impeached was not was his affairs, it was actually lying under oath. Those were the grounds...
CUOMO: About the affair. That’s all you guys talked about. We remember, come on.
SANTORUM: No, no. I remember too. I was there. And the reality was that when the President breaks a law, that’s a big deal. It’s like the situation that we’re dealing with with the President and the investigation in Russia. I mean, what seems to be where this is heading is what did the President do after the fact and did he potentially do something that was harmful, not really what was the underlying offense. So actually, how you deal with an investigation is in fact important and telling the truth to the FBI is something that, that is a...
CUOMO: We’ll see what happens here. This President is studiously avoiding to this point any kind of reckoning of the facts. But still, character either counts or it doesn’t. Now, let’s be very clear about this. I have been covering this Stormy Daniels story and from a very definite perspective, which is, the legalities create exposure here that we have to monitor and watch. I’m not covering it because private lives should dominate our public official analysis. I don’t believe that. I’ve never believed it. Not about Clinton, I thought you guys were wasting our time. I wasn’t even really in the business then, I was still a practicing attorney. And I think it, now, however, with people who say they put faith first, character has to count. It always has. We’ve heard it time and time again. And now all of a sudden, everything is forgivable. They liken Donald Trump to King David. You think that’s a good, is that a good analysis?
SANTORUM: Well certainly King David was a very flawed man.
CUOMO: And what else did King David do that made him acceptable to Christians and it was a fundamental aspect of the story in the bible? Psalm 51. Right? His heart bursting open with contrition for what he had done, that was fundamental to the forgiveness. It was fundamental to the acceptance of what he was as flawed because he knew it and he begged forgiveness and promised to live his life differently going forward. It’s in the bible story because it’s fundamental to the reckoning of why you’re okay with it. And we see none of that here.
SANTORUM: It is fundamental but the contrition was not to his fellow men, his contrition was to God and that’s, and that’s what evangelicals are looking at; that this is an issue between President Trump and God not between President Trump and...
CUOMO: Isn’t that convenient?
SANTORUM: It’s not convenient. It’s an article of...
CUOMO: Because they judge things that are between man and God all the time when it suits them.
SANTORUM: We judge actions, we judge actions, we don’t judge the person. And I think people have been very clear, as I have, that the President’s actions on many occasions are reprehensible and I certainly disagree with a lot of the things that this President does.
CUOMO: I just feel if you put a D next to his name instead of an R, there would have been a lot of loud and proud people talking about it.
SANTORUM: The fact of the matter is, and you’ll hear this over it, that we had a binary choice in the 2016 election.
CUOMO: Yeah, I get it. But that’s still a rationale.
SANTORUM: It’s not a rationale. I mean, there were two people who we both think are flawed on many levels, and well one, I happened to agree with their policies. There wasn’t a third choice.
CUOMO: I hear you.
SANTORUM: A legitimate third choice.
CUOMO: I hear you. Look, I get it. It’s just, to me, it smacks of something really obvious and if people are going to put their faith first, they’re asking for a different level of examination. That’s all. That’s why I bring it up.