Over his 45-year career, best-selling author and award-winning journalist Stephen E. Strang has interviewed a number of presidential candidates, governors and other politicians. But interviewing Donald Trump in the midst of his unlikely campaign was markedly different.
"With Trump," says Strang, author of the best-selling God and Donald Trump, "What you see on television is not what you get behind the scenes. There was a humility about him we don't see in the liberal media sound bites. He was still a straight shooter, but his sincerity was far more striking than I would have expected. I asked the kinds of questions I thought most of my readers would want to ask. His answers revealed a confident, determined man who is truly committed to making America great again through principles that honor God rather than defy Him."
Even more pointedly, Trump talks about the job he would do as president, and now, more than 18 months later, Trump has held true to that promise in many respects. The exclusive Q&A with Trump from August 2016 is included in Strang's new book in the chapter titled, "What Trump Believes."
For example, Strang began the interview with concerns evangelical voters had about religious liberty, to which Trump answered: "Religious liberty is the foundation. Without religious liberty, you don't have liberty. I feel that so strongly, and so many other people do, and plenty of politicians do, but they don't express it. Religious liberty is something that I cherish, and you will never be disappointed."
STRANG: You talked about the rough-and-tumble campaign against 17 candidates and so forth. Yet you have won over the evangelical vote. How has this whole process changed you spiritually?
TRUMP: Well, I can tell you I've always been spiritual, but I really appreciate the evangelicals because they really support me. When somebody supports you, you feel pretty good about it, and I would go into a very evangelical state and people say, "Oh gee, I won't win that state." I ended up winning in a landslide because I had tremendous support. Did you see the polls that people are leaving and supporting Trump over other people whom, in theory, they could have supported very easily? They didn't. So I think the fact that I had the tremendous support from the evangelicals meant a lot to me and will mean a lot to me in the future.
STRANG: You've said that you supported Israel's claim that Jerusalem is the capital. Many evangelicals are very strong supporters of Israel. How would your policies toward Israel differ from your opponent?
TRUMP: Well, for one thing, I support Israel. I don't think Obama supports Israel. I think he's the worst thing that's ever happened to Israel. The Iran deal is a disaster for Israel, and I'm very supportive of Israel and have tremendous relationships in Israel and have a son-in-law who's Jewish, married to my daughter. I will be very strongly in favor of Israel.
STRANG: In the Book of Deuteronomy it says to be kind to the stranger in the land. How would that Scripture guide policy in your administration?
TRUMP: Well, I think that's good, but I think we have to be careful at the same time. We are allowing people to come into the country, and we don't know anything about them. There is no paperwork, there's no documentation. You see what's going on in Germany, France and many other places where they have an open-door policy, and it could go on here too. We've allowed thousands and thousands of people into our country, and we have no idea who they are. At the same time, we want to build safe havens, and we want to get the Gulf states to fund the money, because it's a tremendous amount of money. So we want to take care of people, but we can't allow them in, because we just don't know who they are. You see what happened in San Bernardino, you see what happened in Orlando, you see what happened with the World Trade Center. We can look all over to see what has happened in France, Nice, Germany. We have enough problems. We can't do that.
STRANG: Many believe our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values. In our secular society, a lot of people now discount that influence. Do you believe that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles?
TRUMP: I think it was. I think when I look at football coaches who were fired because they held a prayer on the field, it's absolutely terrible. I think it is terrible to see so many things happening that are different from what our country used to be. So our religion is a very important part of me, and I also think it's a very important part of the country.
STRANG: What is the most important thing in your life?
TRUMP: Well, you always have to say family. Family is the most important thing from that standpoint. Religion is very important, but I'm assuming you are not talking about religion or family, but those two things are very important. Belief is very important, but you would always have to put family as No. 1.
STRANG: Give us some advice as we tell your story. Talk to our readers like you're encouraging the crowd, except in front of the church.
TRUMP: Well, I'm going to do a great job. I'm going to get the job done. I'm going to do a great job for religion and for evangelicals. I am going to do a great job, and that's why we got a standing ovation from the pastors who don't give much for standing ovations because they've heard a lot of people speak, so that was a great honor, but I will do a great job. I will get the job done, and I'll get it done properly, and it will be a great thing for the evangelicals.
In God and Donald Trump, Strang gives an inside look at the Donald Trump campaign, election and the presidency thus far, including how he engaged with evangelicals and other faith groups to claim victory.
Strang is an award-winning journalist and successful businessman who began his career as a newspaper reporter at the Orlando Sentinel. He later founded a Christian publishing house and media company while interviewing and writing about nearly every Christian leader in the country over the past four decades.
God and Donald Trump is published by Frontline, an imprint of Charisma House, which has published books that challenge, encourage, teach and equip Christians, including 14 New York Times best-sellers.
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