President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has started hosting LGBTQ outreach events in battleground states. At the most recent such event, organized by the campaign’s Trump Pride coalition, Tiffany Trump, the president’s fourth child, served as the headliner, marking her first solo appearance as a campaign surrogate.
“I know what my father believes in. Prior to politics, he supported gays, lesbians, the LGBQIA+ community,” she said at the event Saturday in Tampa, Florida, which organizers said drew 150 people. “My father has always supported all of you. … He’s never done it for politics.”
Trump said that when her father first announced that he would be running for the 2016 Republican nomination, she was worried about how the “Republican establishment” views LGBTQ issues.
“But guess what? My dad cannot be bought off. He’s not going to let anyone change his views,” she told the crowd. “He supports all of you, and we are here to fight for equality.”
Trump Pride’s previous events were held in Philadelphia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Phoenix. Campaign surrogates and other supporters, many of them not LGBTQ, heaped praise on the president to court lesbian and gay voters.
At the Philadelphia event, Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, called him “the most pro-gay president in history.” In Tampa, Richard Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence, said, “Mr. President, the gays love you.”
Trump Pride is a first-of-its-kind coalition in Republican presidential politics, and it lists among its 21-member advisory board Grenell, former New Hampshire state Sen. Dan Innis and real estate developer Jill Homan.
Under Trump, Grenell became the first openly gay person to serve in the Cabinet. He has appeared at most of the Trump Pride events so far.
At Saturday’s event in Tampa, Grenell, who spoke at this year’s Republican National Convention, recalled a very different experience watching Pat Buchanan speak at the party’s 1992 convention.
“Pat gave a speech that basically said gays and lesbians were not welcome in the Republican Party. I vowed that day to stay in the Republican Party and to change that,” he said.
“It is the party of conservatives that says mind your own business. The Republican Party that says stay out of my pocketbook and my bedroom,” said Grenell, who did not specify any policies the Trump administration has implemented that have positively affected LGBTQ people.
Grenell said the Republican Party “delivered marriage equality,” even though gay marriage became legal during the administration of President Barack Obama and even though the official Republican Party platform still opposes same-sex marriage and calls for overturning the landmark 2015 gay marriage decision Obergefell v. Hodges. The platform also calls for barring transgender people from serving in the military and allowing religious groups to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
At the Tampa event, neither Tiffany Trump nor Grenell spoke about issues affecting transgender and nonbinary Americans.
After the event, the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD pushed back against Tiffany Trump’s assertion that her father has been a friend to the LGBTQ community by sharing a link to its Trump Accountability Project. According to the project, the Trump administration has made 181 “attacks” on LGBTQ people so far, including its support for allowing taxpayer-funded foster agencies to deny same-sex prospective foster parents and its attempt to remove transgender protections in homeless shelters.