Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, attended a closed-door meeting today with Donald Trump and other pro-life and pro-family leaders to have a conversation about important social issues.
She went on CNN immediately following the meeting and likened the meeting to a certain dating website:
Students for Life of America also hosted a national webcast and conference call this evening to debrief student leaders and supporters.
Did you miss the webcast? No problem. Listen to the replay HERE.
Kristan noted that Trump seemed educated on religious liberty, which was good news. Trump also reaffirmed his pledge to appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices. This was a way to have a more relaxed conversation about issues that he has discussed in the past but with more of a different audience.
She said that the meeting was like the dating website, “It’s Just Lunch” – there were no commitments or endorsements; it was the start of a conversation. Kristan would have liked to have seen more of his heart and why he feels the way he does but again, it was just lunch, just a first step that hopefully opens up another conversation.
Kristan said she felt that Trump seemed unfamiliar with the pro-life movement (for instance, he kept saying “the pro-life” instead of “the pro-life movement” – we don’t talk like that) and obviously that has showed in his previous answers on sensitive issues surrounding the abortion issue.
Brendan O’Morchoe, Pro-Life Future director, who was also in the meeting and joined the call, reiterated that it was a positive development that Trump took the time to meet with the leaders yet it was the start of a much-needed conversation that needs to be had.
Anja Scheib, a student pro-life leader at Mississippi State University, also said that the atmosphere was relaxed but as a young person, she wanted to hear more about why he believes what he does and more about his conversion. She wanted to truly hear his story.
A question was asked on the call if Kristan thought that Trump truly understands our side. She said the message was loud and clear that we care about Supreme Court Justices but she was disappointed that Planned Parenthood wasn’t discussed. There also wasn’t a discussion on personnel. “Personnel is policy” said President Reagan and we could not agree more. This is important because it’s someone in a bureaucratic position that usually decides on a grant or on a bill or allows access.
Brendan wanted to know what Trump believes is negotiable and not negotiable. What is he going to trade away and where will he stand his ground? He talks a lot about making deals but we want to know what is negotiable and what is not.
Another question from the call asked about Trump’s persona in the meeting vs. in public. Anja answered that he seemed much more relaxed in the meeting but there were moments where he went into “TV mode”.
The last question – what was the response from young people and Millennials in the crowd? Kristan said that there were some enthusiastic supporters while others were much more in the middle. Trump seemed to try to tap into the anger in the country, which he has done so well. But Kristan said she doesn’t equate anger with Millennials as much so tapping into her anger doesn’t really work. There are reasons why Kristan said she will probably vote for Trump over Hillary but anger wasn’t one of the reasons. She said Millennials want to connect with a candidate and see their heart and understand their motives.
Brendan and Kristan also teased our fall plans at Students for Life of America – which we can’t say yet J. Kristan said that politics flows from culture and that centers around a pro-life majority and our desire to keep the pro-life majority in government.
So stay tuned!
Following the Trump meeting, Kristan released the following statement to the press:
“Students for Life of America is in the business of changing hearts and minds to shift the culture into one that is life-affirming and that is what we were looking for today during our meeting with Donald Trump, to get a glimpse of what is in his heart. It was encouraging that the conversation centered mostly around religious liberty and fighting to protect the Christian faith in this nation, which are cornerstones of our freedom. Mr. Trump thankfully reiterated his promise, that if elected President, he would nominate pro-life Justices to the Supreme Court. However, it was disappointing that the campaign weeded out several pre-submitted questions about abortion, the pain capable bill in Congress, and defunding Planned Parenthood.
“As someone who represents pro-life Millennials and females, as I am one myself, authenticity resonates with us and we want to see someone who not only speaks the truth, but does what they say they are going do. Donald Trump tried to tap into the anger that Christians feel in this country for being persecuted but from what I’ve witnessed on our college campuses, Millennials, especially pro-life Millennials, aren’t angry. They want a fair chance to speak for the voiceless and help women who really need the help navigating a crisis pregnancy. And they want a government that protects the rights of all life.”