Donald Trump may be down, but he is not completely out of the Republican presidential race. Trump’s prosperity pal and Trump Towers tenant Paula White has arranged for Trump to meet a group of about two dozen Christian pastors in New York today. According to CBN, White arranged the meeting on her own initiative, and the meeting is closed to the public.
White herself is no stranger to controversy, as she was a target of the Grassley televangelist investigation (with which she refused to cooperate). Last month, speaking at a conference organized by her mentor T.D. Jakes, White defended her refusal to cooperate with the government probe into whether her multi-million dollar ministry diverted tax-exempt donor funds to personally enrich White and her (now) ex-husband Randy, saying that other churches should be backing her stance and “thanking six ministries for fighting for the body of Christ for saying ‘we are not going to let you dictate to us how we interpret Scripture.'”
How does White interpret Scripture? “You can’t tell us ‘because Jesus rode in on a donkey’ because if you start telling us how to interpret Scripture in one way, you’ll tell us how to interpret it in every way!”
Given Trump’s own penchant for grandstanding, the fact that the meeting is private suggests that he approached White to organize this meeting in order to regain traction for his ‘bid’ for the Republican nomination. Trump has also met with Ralph Reed, and agreed to appear at Reed’s Faith and Freedom coalition event in June, a who’s who of conservative leaders and potential 2012 Republican candidates.
Trump’s recent foray into birtherism is perhaps masking a bigger recasting of himself as a conservative candidate that right-wing Christians could conceivably vote for. With his criticism of President Obama, his repudiation of his former pro-choice stance for a anti-choice stand, his courtship of conservative religious groups, and appearances on Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump is casting about for a new conservative identity to marry to his “Apprentice” persona.
Right now, Trump looks as effective in that task as Gary Busey has been on Celebrity Apprentice. Time will tell if he is able to wrest conservative Christian support from Mike Huckabee, Michelle Bachmann, or Queen Esther Sarah Palin. Or whether they’ll fire him before he even suggests that he’s their anointed one.