Formerly, evangelical leaders were crucial in forging the alliance that brought Donald Trump to the president. But since many religious leaders have opted to stay neutral in the early stages of his third presidential campaign, Trump is now attacking the same community on whom he previously depended.
Trump said he thought evangelical leaders were betraying his cause when he spoke on Real America’s Voice on Monday. This was in response to allegations that once-supportive religious groups are now hesitant to embrace him ahead of the 2024 election.
This is true despite the fact that he kept his campaign promises to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would support the effort of evangelicals to overturn federal protections for abortion and to advance policies like expanding “school choice,” which would allow taxpayer money to flow into private and religious educational institutions.
That is a show of disloyalty, according to Trump. “There is a lot of disloyalty in the political sphere, and that’s a symptom of treason because, as you know, Donald Trump has done more than anybody else in history to advance [the] right to life. They eventually succeeded when three Supreme Court judges decided to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Then, even as some evangelicals condemned Trump for the Republican Party’s poor performance in the 2022 midterm elections, Trump shifted the responsibility to those organizations for not doing enough to support conservative candidates.
I think they could have fought much harder during the election, so I was a bit disappointed,” Trump stated. The fact that many of them chose not to fight or weren’t truly there to do so energized the Democrats. However, many of the individuals that battled for it through the years and wanted it kind of…were there protesting and doing what they could have done.
“Having said that, nobody has contributed more to the movement than I have. And it includes the “right to life” movement and the evangelical and Christian movements, he said.
Trump may have some cause for concern even if polls indicate he will still be the Republican front-runner for the party’s candidature in a year and a half. According to exit polls published by the Pew Research Center, Trump had record-high support from white, evangelical Christians across the board, which was crucial to his winning coalition in 2016 as well as his performance in his unsuccessful reelection effort in 2020.
Some of those who had previously backed Trump now seems to be up for grabs.
Robert Jeffress, a pastor at the First Baptist Dallas Church and a steadfast evangelical supporter of Trump, told Newsweek shortly after Trump declared his intention to run for president in 2024 that he would decline to make an endorsement before the Republican primaries that year, but that he would “happily support [Trump]” if he were to win.
In recent weeks, articles in publications like Vanity Fair and others have painted a picture of a reluctant evangelical community that has grown wary of Trump’s erratic behavior and the baggage he carries with the American public. Some of these evangelicals believe that Trump’s lack of appeal with independent voters and some of his own party could spell defeat for their movement in 2024.
Particularly after Trump’s support for conservative candidates in the 2022 midterm elections seemed to actually work against them in a number of contests when a crucial evangelical policy goal—the outlawing of abortion—was on the national ballot. After four years of Trump, evangelical support for conservative candidates actually decreased by as much as five points in some states, according to exit polling from the 2020 election conducted by the New York Times. This could have cost the GOP crucial victories in crucial states like Georgia and Michigan that year.
The former president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Everett Piper, stated in a column for The Washington Times after the election, “The lesson of this midterm is simple and clear: Mr. Trump’s endorsements hindered rather than helped the much-anticipated red wave,’ and his petty selfishness could likely lead to another series of runoff losses in the days ahead.” “This last week’s lesson is clear: Donald Trump must be removed. We shall be annihilated if he is nominated 2024 for president.
Others are already surpassing Trump’s nascent 2024 campaign, despite the fact that it has started expanding its networks in early-voting and very religious states like South Carolina that will be crucial to his road to the nomination.
Mike Pence, his former vice president, has already made many speeches at churches and religious colleges in the Palmetto State as many expect him to begin his own campaign for the White House. Other potential rivals, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have also tried to boost their reputation among evangelicals by using more and more biblical language in their appeals to voters.
In a recent interview with CBS News’ Robert Costa, Pence gave an in-depth analysis of the 2024 field in just a few short sentences.
“I believe we have time…
The one thing we were certain of was that we wouldn’t allow anybody else to decide for us,” he stated.