Bill Armstrong, president of Colorado Christian University, a college that has hosted multiple Republican presidential candidates, told The Colorado Independent that Donald Trump is divisive and polarizing. Photo: Colorado Christian University
LAKEWOOD, CO. — “Anybody but Trump.”
That’s a message Colorado Christian University president Bill Armstrong is broadcasting as the 2016 presidential primary nears.
“I just don’t think Donald Trump is temperamentally suited to be president,” the former Colorado congressman and U.S. senator told The Colorado Independent in an interview.
“I think after all the things he has said in the campaign to date it would be very, very difficult for him to unite the country,” Armstrong said. “He’s a divisive, polarizing personality.”
Colorado Christian University is a private religious school outside Denver founded in 1914 with a total enrollment of just under 5,500. This campaign season the school has played host to multiple presidential candidates.
Armstrong’s comments came after a Monday evening speech on campus by former Vice President Dick Cheney. In October, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson spoke to a standing-room only crowd here following a Republican debate in Boulder. Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have also rolled through events sponsored by the college. At the time Carson appeared, he was flirting with front-runner status. Jindal dropped out of the race last month.
As for Trump, the firebrand outsider has been swelling crowds around the country, maintaining his status as a poll-topper, and ramping up his rhetoric against Muslims in the wake of attacks in Paris and California that have been linked to the Islamic State terrorist group.
A recent call by Trump to ban all Muslims from entering the United States has been widely condemned. Speaking on the Colorado Christian University campus Monday, Cheney himself told a conservative talk show host that Trump’s take on Muslims “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
Armstrong, who was once chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Republican Policy Committee, predicts cooler heads will prevail, and The Donald will not become the eventual nominee of his party.
“My hunch is that as people draw closer to the actual moment at which they will be casting a vote in a primary election, they’re not going to vote for him,” Armstrong told The Independent. “I could be wrong about that.”
While there are some issues on which the Christian college leader said he and Trump could agree— Trump’s criticism of recent trade deals supported by the current president, for instance, or Trump’s call for more border security— he doesn’t see the candidate as someone who could earn the backing of mainstream America in a general presidential election.
Colorado Republicans will not be holding caucuses in the presidential primary this year, though they will hold early precinct meetings to send 37 delegates to the national convention. Those delegates will be free to pledge support for any candidate. When the national GOP ruled state delegates must support the winner of their state’s caucuses, the executive committee of the Colorado Republican Party voted to cancel the traditional way they do caucuses.
Armstrong said he doesn’t yet have a favorite in the primary, but if Trump does wind up the nominee he could see himself forced to vote for him.
“I just don’t think he could unite the country in the way that I think Ted Cruz could or Marco Rubio could, or that Jeb Bush could,” Armstrong said. “I think there are several potential Republican candidates, some of whom I agree with more than others. Any of them would have a good chance of uniting the country. I don’t think Donald Trump does.”