Four years after declaring victory in the supposed “war on Christmas,” former President Donald Trump has once again claimed more Americans are saying “Merry Christmas” because of him.
During a Newsmax Christmas special that began airing Thursday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claimed that just before the 2016 presidential election, “America had [been] going into a long period where people quit saying ‘Merry Christmas.’”
“You deliberately changed that,” Huckabee told Trump as emotional music for strings and piano played.
Trump agreed, saying that when he announced his presidential bid in 2015, “the country had started with this ‘woke’ a little bit before that.
“And it was embarrassing for stores to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ You’d see these big chains, they want your money but they don’t want to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ And they’d use reds and they’d use whites and snow but they wouldn’t say ‘Merry Christmas,’” he added.
“When I started campaigning, I said, ‘You’re going to say “Merry Christmas” again.’ And now people are saying it,” Trump continued. “That was a big part of what I was doing, I would say it all the time during that period … I tell you, we brought it back very quickly.”
During his presidential campaign and early in his administration, Trump and his allies appeared to be a part of a pro-“Merry Christmas” crusade. Many Republicans argued that by removing holiday images from branding or saying “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” stores were anti-Christian — some even accused large corporations of hating Jesus.
“I love Christmas,” Trump said in 2015. “You go to stores now, and it doesn’t say Christmas. It says ‘Happy Holidays.’ All over! I say, ‘Where’s Christmas?’ I tell my wife, ‘Don’t go to those stores.’ I want to see Christmas! Other people can have their holidays, but Christmas is Christmas. I want to see ‘Merry Christmas.’ Remember the expression ‘Merry Christmas’? You don’t see it. You’re going to see it if I’m elected.”
However, the Pew Research Center found in 2017 that 90 percent of Americans celebrated Christmas, with just over half saying it “doesn’t matter” how businesses greet their customers during the holiday season.
That same year, Trump tweeted on Christmas Eve: “People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!”
According to Trump and Huckabee, the phrase “Merry Christmas” is “a part of American culture” and isn’t meant to be exclusionary.
“America loves Christmas,” the former president said. “Whether you’re Muslim, whether you’re Christian, whether you’re Jewish, everyone loves Christmas. And they’d say ‘Merry Christmas’ until these crazy people came along and they wanted to stop it along with everything else.”
In 2017, the Washington Post found that up until 2011, Trump himself avoided wishing his supporters a “Merry Christmas” on social media, sticking to more generic holiday greetings.
“Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday season!,” he tweeted on Dec. 23, 2010.
“Young Entrepreneurs – the Holiday season is here but that is no excuse not to stay on top of your business prospects. Focus!” Trump wrote on Dec. 19, 2013.
According to the report, the former president’s first use of the word “Christmas” on Twitter was in 2011 when he suggested followers buy one of his books as a gift.