Donald Trump attended the St. Louis funeral of Phyllis Schlafly Saturday afternoon, praising the conservative activist as “a truly great American patriot.”
“What a great lady,” Trump said from a podium at the St. Louis Basilica.
The GOP nominee, who earned the endorsement of Schlafly back in March, first shared his “deepest, heartfelt” condolences with her family, including her six “wonderful children, who she loved so much.”
“A movement has lost its hero,” Trump said. “And believe me, Phyllis was there for me when it was not at all fashionable. Trust me.”
Schalfly, who passed away at the age of 92 on Monday, was perhaps best known for her strong stances against abortion, same-sex marriage, and her 1970s war on the Equal Rights Amendment. As a founder of the conservative Eagle Forum, Schlafly’s early backing of Trump even came as a surprise to some in the right-wing grassroots, who remained skeptical of the Manhattan real estate magnate’s conservative bona fides.
But Schlafly dismissed the naysayers earlier this year, appearing at a rally in March to tout Trump’s “courage.”
“I think he has the courage and the energy -- you know you have to have energy for that job -- in order to bring some changes,” she said at the time, “to do what the grassroots want him to do because this is a grassroots uprising. We’ve been following the losers for so long. Now we’ve got a guy who’s going to lead us to victory.”
Trump, at the funeral, lamented that the country had “lost a true patriot” with Schlafly’s death, easing a dig at his rivals into his remarks.
“She was a warrior for the country which she loved so much,” he said. “Even at the age of 92, this beloved woman had more strength and fire and heart than 50 strong politicians all put together. Believe me, I witnessed it.”
He noted that Schlafly, who for more than 60 years campaigned tirelessly against the GOP establishment and championed a populist conservative agenda, was the “ultimate happy warrior.”
“In all of her battles, she never strayed from the one guiding principle: She was for America and it was always, always America first. People have forgotten that nowadays,” Trump said. “She never wavered, never apologized and never backed down in taking on the kingmakers. She never stopped fighting for the fundamental idea that the American people ought to have their needs come before anything or anyone else.”
Trump concluded his address with a reference to what he called the “rigged” political system Schlafly fought hard against during her years as a grassroots organizer.
“America has always been about the underdog and always been about defying the odds. The idea that so-called little people for the little person that she loved so much could beat the system -- oftentimes the rigged system,” he said. “Phyllis is looking down on us right now, and I’m sure she’s telling us to keep up the fight.”