President Donald Trump is holding his “Evangelicals for Trump” coalition kickoff Friday at El Rey Jesús in Miami.
“The event will bring together evangelicals from across the nation who support President Trump’s reelection,” according to the announcement from his campaign.
Several Democrats have released statements slamming the event, calling it a waste of time and a “desperate” attempt to hold on to his base.
Last month, the campaign announced the event for 5 p.m. Jan. 3. Guillermo Maldonado, the megachurch’s lead pastor, has publicly praised the President and visited the White House.
Trump is expected to look for heavy support from evangelicals during the 2020 campaign. Winning in Florida also is important for his reelection hopes.
The announcement came only days after a blistering editorial by Christianity Today, a prominent evangelical magazine founded by Billy Graham, calling for the President’s removal from office.
“The President of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the President’s political opponents,” wrote Christianity Today editor-in-chief Mark Galli. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”
Evangelical leader Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, said his father “would be embarrassed” by the editorial. The younger Graham is a fervent Trump supporter.
“It is not going to change anybody’s mind about Trump,” Graham said in a recent interview.
The campaign for former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s leading Democratic opponent, released a statement:
“Donald Trump is ringing in the new year with a desperate bid to cling to his base and a viable path to re-election. Tomorrow’s event in Miami comes on the heels of a new poll that shows Trump would lose the state of Florida if he has to face Joe Biden in November. It also comes just weeks after one of the Evangelical community’s top publications called for Trump’s removal from office for his high crimes and misdemeanors in trying to blackmail a foreign government into smearing Biden.
“This is all not to mention the countless ways that Donald Trump has stoked fear in Hispanics and immigrants in Florida, including many King Jesus International Ministry churchgoers. His base is crumbling and Trump sees the writing on the wall: Joe Biden will beat him in Florida and battleground states around the country. This year we make Donald Trump a one-term president.”
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, whose congressional district includes El Rey Jesús church, also attacked the event:
“Instead of holding yet another political rally to incite divisions, I would like President Trump to focus on the serious issues we face here in South Florida. What our community really needs is action to lower prescription drug prices, curb the harmful effects of climate change, and end gun violence. Just recently, our community was devastated by another shooting. We can’t wait any longer.
“We also cannot wait to address the high rate of poverty in South Florida, lack of access to affordable housing, and our community’s need for high-quality education. Finally, Hispanics and Latinos in my district have suffered immensely from the President’s cruel and failed immigration policies, including separating families.
“I urge President Trump to use his time here to address these issues, not continue his agenda of division.”