Republican presidential candidate and real estate billionaire Donald Trump is attempting to woo social conservatives by showing them his values are rooted in biblical Christianity.
At the 2015 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., on Friday, one of the most important evangelical Christian political events in the country, USA Today reports the candidate brought his personal copy of the Bible. Trump assured the crowd he would fight for religious freedom and to instill Christian values across the country, saying he loathed seeing "Happy Holidays" banners at stores instead of ones reading "Merry Christmas."
"I tell my wife, don't go to those stores," said Trump. "I want to see Christmas. You're going to see it if I get elected."
"I brought my Bible. You know, it's the First Presbyterian Church, Jamaica (Queens) and this was written by my mother, with my name, with my address, with everything," he said as he waved the Bible, according to CNN. "I saw this and I had to bring it."
Now is a natural time for Trump to be thinking hard about his approach to the race. While he maintains large leads in the polls, recent days have seen his numbers slide significantly from weeks ago, when he polled at over 30% support among Republicans. The two candidates trailing him in the race, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, have both played up their social conservative bona-fides, and the Trump campaign could be concerned about just where his ceiling actually lies.
More broadly, Trump would be hard-pressed to win the nomination without the support of the GOP's influential socially conservative wing. His long-standing record of crude statements about women and his opponents probably makes him a harder sell on that alone. While Trump has been fond of reminding voters his favorite book is the Bible, he's been vague on certain points like which is his favorite verse. Finally, his formerly moderate stances on abortion and same-sex marriage as well as his famously lavish lifestyle have likely earned him some skepticism.
While Trump reminded the audience he polls well among Evangelicals, there were some troubling signs for the candidate as well: After he referred to fellow candidate Marco Rubio as a "clown," the crowd booed him.