It appears one of Donald Trump’s top Iowa backers and national policy adviser may face some serious blow-back at home over Trump’s new policy on Muslims. The Republican front-runner rolled out his new proposal on Monday that would ban all Muslims from entering the United States, even if they were American citizens traveling abroad (though Trump has mentioned he would make exceptions for members of the military and his own personal friends).
An Iowan appears to have played a role in the development of that policy: Sam Clovis, Trump’s hired gun from Iowa, a former conservative talk radio show host, Republican candidate for statewide office and professor at a college in Sioux City. It’s that last position, as a professor of economics at Morningside College, that may now be at risk thanks to Clovis’ involvement with Trump’s campaign.
Starting Line reached out to a spokesperson from Morningside College, where Clovis has taken a leave of absence from this year to work for Trump’s campaign. We asked whether Clovis advising a leading presidential candidate to promote a policy that would ban an entire religious group from entering the United States conflicts at all with Morningside College’s mission statement or values.
“Very much so,” replied Rick Wollman, the Vice President of Communications and Marketing at Morningside. “This is not the Sam Clovis that we knew when he was here. Sam was a staunch defender of the Constitution and a strong advocate for religious freedom. If he played a role in drafting or advising the Trump campaign on this issue, we will be outraged and extremely disappointed in Dr. Clovis.”
While Clovis enjoys tenure at the college, it sounds as if his employment there may be at risk going forward.
“He is a tenured member of our faculty at this time and, prior to looking at this issue more closely, he could come back,” Wollman explained. “However, the college will be studying this issue more closely in the weeks ahead.”
Wollman confirmed that Clovis requested and was granted an unpaid leave this year after joining Trump’s campaign (Clovis had previously worked for Rick Perry until the Texas Governor dropped in the polls), and that Clovis had not yet indicated whether he would return next year or not. He also noted that Morningside has one student who identifies as “Islamic,” though they have no students hailing from Middle Eastern countries.
Starting Line has been unable to confirm with Clovis what exactly his full involvement with Trump’s new policy is. We informed Dr. Clovis of Morningside’s statement regarding him; Clovis hung up the phone. A spokesperson for Trump’s campaign did not respond to Starting Line’s email or phone message on the topic.
In an interview with Ben Jacobs of The Guardian, Clovis seemed to indicate knowledge of the campaign’s thinking on the issue, saying the campaign had discussed a policy on Muslims for several weeks. Clovis serves as a national policy adviser for the campaign. He also defended and promoted the policy in that interview, so the matter of whether he helped craft the policy or not may not matter that much in the end.
by Pat Rynard