The son of iconic Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell hailed GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump as a "breath of fresh air" in a duplicitous political world and compared the real estate mogul to his father for eschewing political correctness.
In his affectionate introduction to Trump in an approximately half-hour speech on Monday, Jerry Falwell, Jr. told the story of how his dad proudly erected a billboard proclaiming the Lynchburg, Va. institution "politically incorrect since 1971."
The introduction and Trump speech were broadcast live on Newsmax TV
"Donald Trump has stunned the political world by building an unlikely coalition that crosses all demographic boundaries of age, sex, race, religion and social classes and all party lines," Falwell said.
"Donald Trump is a breath of fresh air in a nation where the political establishment from both parties has betrayed their constituencies time and time again with broken promises and a continuation of the status quo."
The university leader told the crowd of 13,000 gathered around the university to hear the speech that he sees "a lot of parallels between my father and Donald Trump."
"Like Mr. Trump, dad would speak his mind, he would make statements that were politically incorrect," he said. "His polarizing statements made people who didn't know him think he was tough and mean but he wasn't anything but. People who knew him personally attested to the fact that he loved people. He never could keep any money in his pocket because he gave it all away to those in need and he gave away so many scholarships he nearly bankrupted the school … He regularly gave students and staff members who got in trouble the second, third and fourth chances even when they didn't deserve it and he loved his enemies."
And, Falwell said, Trump has "many of these same qualities."
"He honors his judiciary responsibilities to his corporations, he makes tough decisions to ensure his business's success, he speaks the truth publicly even if it is uncomfortable for people to hear — yet he treats his friends, his employees and those in need with the greatest respect, loyalty and generosity."
Falwell then recounted how Trump gave his unsolicited support and generosity to those who needed it most, including funding the Harlem Hoops Basketball Tournament in New York after the man who ran it died in the 9/11 attacks and paying off the mortgage of a couple who stopped to help him when his limousine conked out on a deserted highway.
"Matthew 7:16 tells us that 'By their fruits, you shall know them,'" Falwell said. "Donald Trump's life has born fruit. Fruit that has provided jobs to multitudes of people, in addition to the many he has helped with his generosity."
"In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment."
And then in explaining how his own father was criticized for supporting Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter for president, Falwell added:
"He wasn't electing a Sunday school teacher or a pastor or even a president who shared his theological beliefs," Falwell said. "He was electing the president of the United States and the talents, abilities and experience required to lead a nation might not always line up with those needed to run a church or lead a congregation. After all, Jimmy Carter was a great Sunday school teacher but look what happened to our nation with him in the presidency."
The Christian university does not endorse candidates — and invited Democrat Bernie Sanders to speak in September
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