Just hours before Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said it was “disgraceful” for Pope Francis to call his cornerstone foreign policy plan “not Christian,” Trump was singing the Bishop of Rome’s praises.
Earlier this week, following news that Pope Francis would pray at the Mexican border at the end of his six-day visit to the country, Trump called him “a very political person.” But he also heaped praise on Francis Thursday morning in a radio interview, saying he “sees both sides.”
“I heard the Pope and I respect the Pope and I love the Pope in many ways. I love what he stands for and I like his attitude. He’s very independent and he’s very different. He’s sort of a modern day Pope if you think about it,” Trump said in an interview on SiriusXM radio’s “Breitbart News Daily.”
While Trump acknowledged that he disagrees with Francis about border issues, the ex-reality TV star also said: “I really respect the fact that he sees both sides. You know a lot of people are inflexible – they won’t change.”
Listen to Trump’s full remarks, via SiriusXM:
Quick pivots are par for the course from Trump, who has “evolved” on a slew of issues. But Trump went on an all-out offensive against Francis after the radio interview that was markedly out of step with his numerous, previously chummy remarks about the Pontiff.
One day after Francis was elected on March 13, 2013, Trump tweeted his congratulations to the next Pope:
Congratulations to my Catholic friends on the selection of Pope Francis I to lead the Catholic Church. People that know him love him!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 14, 2013
Trump also publicly said he didn’t support Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign, which made him the first Pope since the 1400s to do so. In February 2013, he said of Benedict’s resignation, “it hurts him, it hurts the church…”
Just a day after Francis was introduced as pope for the first time, Trump dinged him for standing at the front desk of a hotel to pay his bill like a layman. Trump also acknowledged in a response to the tweet that he could never be pope because of his penchant for bragging.
I don’t like seeing the Pope standing at the checkout counter (front desk) of a hotel in order to pay his bill. It’s not Pope-like!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2013
But any bad feelings about the pope didn’t linger, and a year later, Trump tweeted about the pontiff, “I like him so much!”
The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 25, 2013
The billionaire real estate mogul also postured about including Francis on “Celebrity Apprentice,” a spin-off of his reality TV show “The Apprentice” featuring semi-famous contestants, before its early 2015 premiere. Francis never appeared on the show.
“@mgmacdon: @realDonaldTrump if they had to say yes, who would your first pick to be on the celebrity apprentice?” The Pope!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 6, 2014