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GOP Senator James Lankford says he doesn't think Trump is a role model for young people

Full interview: Senators Coons & Lankford on “Face the Nation”
Full interview: Senators Chris Coons and James Lankford on “Face the Nation” 29:01

Washington — Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma criticized President Trump for his tweets and language, saying he doesn't believe the president is someone who young people can look up to.

"I don't think that President Trump as a person is a role model for a lot of different youth. That's just me personally," Lankford said on "Face the Nation." "I don't like the way that he tweets, some of the things that he says, his word choices at times are not my word choices. He comes across with more New York City swagger than I do from the Midwest and definitely not the way that I'm raising my kids."

Lankford is a member of a weekly prayer breakfast held in the Senate, where members of the upper chamber come together to pray, sing hymns and swap stories. The Oklahoma Republican has a masters degree in divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and served as the director of student ministry for the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma and director of a Baptist youth camp before he was elected to Congress.

Lankford said he wishes Mr. Trump were more of a role model, but acknowledged he and the president are in lockstep on areas Lankford is "very passionate about," such as abortion and religious liberty.

"For people of faith, it's a bit of a conundrum at times that I look at some of the moral decisions that he's made and go, I disagree with that," the Oklahoma Republican said. "But he's also been very, very protective of areas like life and very protective of areas of religious liberty to be able to allow people to be able to live their faith out. And at the end of the day, what we're really looking for in an administration is folks that allow us to be able to live our principles."

Lankford conceded he doesn't get to choose the people he works with in Washington, as that task is left to the American people. He said his "responsibility is to be able to get things done in that environment that I think drive home a set of values and a set of policies that help the nation long term."

Joining Lankford in the Senate's weekly prayer group is Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware. Coons holds a master's degree in ethics from Yale Divinity School and preaches at houses of worship across Delaware.

While the Delaware Democrat and Mr. Trump are both Presbyterian, Coons said they "vigorously disagree" on issues like abortion and his treatment of refugees. 

"The president's been a real challenge for me to find ways to work with," the Delaware senator said. "I'll tell you that praying for the president is probably one of the greatest spiritual challenges I've had to work through in my life."

Coons lamented he and Mr. Trump haven't yet had time for a "thoughtful conversation."

"But part of the point of being a person who believes in the potential of everybody to change and to grow is that I live in a very challenging time in a challenging environment," he said. "And I hope that I can be a good model of what it means to believe deeply in certain principles and yet respect others."

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