Although he was initially wary that President Trump was not a true conservative, Florida's Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran says, "if you take the first year of Donald Trump's presidency and match it up against any other president, in my opinion, you'd be hard pressed to say that he hasn't been the most successful conservative president that we've ever had."
(Tallahassee, FL)—[CBN News] Like many of his generation, Richard Corcoran's parents lived through the Great Depression and World War II. (Screengrab: Florida House Speaker, Richard Corcoran/via CBN News)
Because of their experiences, they instilled the values he uses today as the guiding force of his life, work and family.
"They would always say to us, 'You've got to know your philosophy. But even if you know your philosophy, you're no better than someone who doesn't have a philosophy if you don't have the courage to fight for it,'" Corcoran shared in an interview with CBN News.
Today he clearly stands up for his philosophy as speaker of Florida's House of Representatives.
"I'm a true-blue conservative," Corcoran said. "In fact, one of my favorite political quotes is Mike Pence's. He says, 'I'm a Christian. I'm a conservative. I'm a Republican, in that order.' And that's what I would say about myself. I'm a Christian, conservative, Republican, in that order."
Corcoran says that belief helps keep his moral compass pointing north.
He says he wants everything he does in life to be pleasing to God.
"The most common thing, and I do it throughout the day, is I just want in all my actions (and I fail ... we can fail tomorrow but we have a Savior that's covered all our sins) ... 'help me glorify You,'" he said. "In all I do, help me glorify You."
Corcoran's Faith Blossoms at Regent University
After college, Corcoran chose to attend Regent University School of Law, where he says his faith and passion for conservative ideals blossomed.
He explained, "Students who could go to Harvard or Yale, but they come to Regent and those professors come to Regent because they want to be in that environment where they can speak freely and teach and openly discuss their faith and so you're exposed to just an amazing institution."
"It was one of the greatest blessings of my life, obviously, I met my wife there, that was tremendous. I really grew in my faith," added Corcoran.
After Regent, Corcoran worked as an attorney and then entered politics, working at the grassroots level for Republican candidates in Florida.
He was first elected to serve in the House of Representatives in 2010.
Accomplishments as House Speaker
During his time as speaker, the legislature passed one of the nation's most transformative education bills. The measure, called 'Schools of Hope' allows private charter schools to open in areas where failing public schools are located.
Corcoran also pushed lawmakers to go after corrupt judges and push for stronger ethics rules.
"We have fought for accountability and transparency," he said. "We have filed more lawsuits against corruption and graft than any other previous administration. We've filed for protection of separation of powers. We've filed against illegal taxes being passed. We have filed against hiding government contracts and absconding with taxpayer money, all absolute necessary lawsuits." (Screengrab: Florida House Speaker, Richard Corcoran/via CBN News)
Corcoran also wants accountability following the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
After reports that deputies failed to engage the shooter when they arrived at the school, Corcoran called for the suspension of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel due to incompetence and dereliction of duty.
Speaker Corcoran has recently come under intense scrutiny in Florida after debuting a political ad that argues against sanctuary cities.
"We can have a common sense, rational immigration policy that protects our country and at the same time there's a pathway for people to come here legally and have that new opportunity at a new life," said Corcoran.
During the 2016 presidential election, Corcoran initially criticized Donald Trump for what he saw as a lack of conservative principles.
"I didn't believe he was a conservative," commented Corcoran. The reason I didn't believe him was because of his own words I could find on YouTube in a few seconds."
From Skeptic to 'Unabashed Defender' of Trump
He added, "Now moving forward, then he chose Vice President Pence as his running mate, which I loved the choice, and then he gets elected and now I've been an unabashed defender and I'd say from my experience from reading history and from what I've followed since I've been engaged in politics, going back to the Reagan Revolution, if you take the first year of Donald Trump's presidency and match it up against any other president, in my opinion, you'd be hard pressed to say that he hasn't been the most successful conservative president that we've ever had."
Meanwhile, as his time as House speaker comes to a close, Corcoran has been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor.
A Run For Governor Next?
"I'm already an underdog so even if I said yes I'd be an underdog. I was joking with these guys, we'll just pick up our slingshot, we'll go out on the battlefield and we'll do the best we can. If that time comes let's not worry about man's strategy on how you can get something done. Again, if it's going to happen and I feel it's something we should do, win or lose, it was a blessing from God."
He says no matter his decision, he will use the Bible to help guide the way...
"I like Job," said Corcoran. "He says basically no matter what happens, good or bad, blessed be the name of the Lord. And so I try to do that because you have lots of setbacks, failings in the political realm."