ST. LOUIS — Donald Trump delivered a subdued eulogy Saturday at the funeral of Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative icon known for her outspoken opposition to feminism and abortion rights.
Reading from prepared text at the St. Louis basilica, Trump said Schlafly "never stopped fighting for the fundamental idea that the American people ought to have their needs come before anyone and anything else.”
Calling her a "truly great American patriot," Trump said, "Phyllis was a strong, proud, fierce, and tireless warrior, and she was a warrior for the country, which she loved so much."
The brief remarks came a day after Trump announced during a speech in Washington, D.C., at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of social conservative activists and leaders, that he would attend her funeral mass.
The GOP presidential nominee on Friday praised Schlafly, who died Monday at age 92 in her home in St. Louis, as "one of the great champions for the American family."
"Phyllis fought very hard to the very end for a free and prosperous America. She understood that to be truly united as a country, we can’t simply turn to government or to politicians," Trump said. "The bedrock of our unity is the realization that we are all brothers and sisters created by the same God. Phyllis understood that. Phyllis understood that."
Schlafly was an early leader of the social conservative movement and founded the Eagle Forum, a prominent conservative grassroots organization, more than 40 years ago. An ardent opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion rights, she was perhaps best known for her successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.
Schlafly endorsed Trump in March, when the GOP primary had winnowed and conservatives were choosing between Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
In her endorsement, Schlafly praised Trump as having the “courage and the energy … in order to bring some changes.”
Her endorsement came as a surprise to many conservatives because of lingering questions surrounding Trump’s commitment to the cause — the candidate was once an admitted pro-choice Democrat — and because of Cruz’s consistent support for conservative policies and active courtship of Schlafly’s endorsement.
It was so unexpected that the endorsement ultimately prompted a handful of Eagle Forum leaders to attempt to oust her from the head of the organization — a move that was ultimately unsuccessful.
In his speech Friday, Trump lauded Schlafly for endorsing him “a long time ago when it wasn’t necessarily something that was so easy to do,” calling her “incredible” and “brave.”
Despite backlash from her supporters, Schlafly continued her outspoken support of Trump and recently co-authored a book pitching conservative Christian voters on Trump’s candidacy.
Called “The Conservative Case for Trump,” it was released Tuesday, the day after her death, and Trump called on his Twitter followers to buy the book as a “tribute” to Schlafly.