The new co-chair of Donald Trump's presidential campaign denounced him as offensive to veterans and a demagogue just over a month before signing on to his team, according to emails leaked by supporters of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The Des Moines Register reported that Sam Clovis defended Perry for attacking Trump last month over his remarks criticizing Arizona Sen. John McCain on July 20, when Clovis was the head of Perry's Iowa campaign team.
"Mr. Trump's remarks were insulting to me as a veteran and as a person whose family sacrificed for 25 years as I 'missed anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, Christmases and Easters," Clovis wrote in an email. "[Trump's] comments were offensive and people responded accordingly. I was offended by a man who sought and gained four student deferments to avoid the draft and who has never served this nation a day -- not a day -- in any fashion or way."
Clovis, an evangelical conservative, joined Trump's team on Monday, shortly after reports that Perry had stopped paying his staff members in Iowa.
"This takes a lot of courage to step out there and do this. You know you're going to catch hell," Clovis told the Register on Wednesday. "And people have been vicious and mean and absolutely scurrilous in their attacks over the last 24 hours. I wouldn't be on his team if I didn't believe he was the right guy."
However, the email last month showed that Clovis was deeply suspicious of the real estate mogul, saying it would be "intellectually dishonest" of him to let Trump "get away with something" he would not allow from President Barack Obama or "any other progressive."
"Why should I not be suspicious of someone who says he hates lobbyists and yet has spread millions of dollars around to Republicans and Democrats to enrich himself?" he asked. "Why should I not be suspicious of someone who cannot come to say that he believes in God, that he has never asked for forgiveness and that communion is simply wine and a cracker."
On July 22, Clovis wrote an email to Perry aides saying it "brought tears to [his] eyes" when the governor attacked Trump that same day for offering "a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued."
"Powerful stuff," Clovis said of Perry's remarks. "Let's hope others react the same way."
But on Wednesday, Clovis would not go into the specifics behind his defection to Trump's camp.
"I was recruited and hired because of my skills and my abilities," he told the Register. "I'm an employee of the campaign. I'm not going to talk about how much money I’m getting paid -- it's just not going to happen."