These evangelicals are doing something Trump claimed they’d 'never' do — 'considering other' options: report
On Tuesday night, November 15 — a week after the 2022 midterms elections — former President Donald Trump officially announced that he is running for president in 2024 and is seeking the Republican nomination. Trump obviously hoped that far-right White evangelicals, who have been a key part of his MAGA base, would be quick to give him their endorsement. But Tessa Stuart and Asawin Suebsaeng, in a report for Rolling Stone published on November 23, emphasize that evangelicals haven’t been lining up behind Trump the way he hoped and want to hear what other 2024 candidates have to say.
“He was warned, at times, that there were signs some conservative faith leaders were open to exploring other, non-Trump 2024 candidacies,” Stuart and Suebsaeng explain. “The former president, for his part, was mostly incredulous, at least on the surface. Trump, according to these sources, would boast that those voters — as well as their pastors, professional activists, and grassroots honchos — would ‘never’ dump Trump. Never. Not after everything President Trump had done for them: the judges, the executive orders, Israel, Christmas (of course), and tipping the balance of the Supreme Court and, with it, the ultimate offering: the overturning of Roe v. Wade.”
Trump, the journalists add, made his November 15 announcement feeling “confident” that he had the Christian Right’s “support locked up,” but that was before “the defections began.”
“Evangelical leaders who once counseled Trump are openly bad-mouthing him or publicly declaring they can’t, in good conscience, cast a ballot for him again,” according to Stuart and Suebsaeng. “The wrangler in charge of outreach to faith leaders has been cautioned she will have a hard time getting the flock back in line. And perhaps most shockingly, the anti-abortion groups whose every demand Trump sought to satisfy during his four years in office have nonchalantly declared neutrality in the GOP primary. They all agree that Trump delivered for them as president. The question now is: What else can he do? And is it worth five more years of dealing with him?”
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, Trump, according to Rolling Stone, privately worried that there would be a backlash. And there was. In the 2022 midterms, Democratic gubernatorial candidates who made abortion rights a priority in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan won.
Trump avoided discussing the Dobbs decision during his November 15 announcement, and some anti-abortion activists are disappointed. Kristan Hawkins, president of Students For Life of America, told Rolling Stone, “Former President Trump’s silence about abortion in his long speech announcing his candidacy sent a message, and we heard it loud and clear…. (We are) not looking for ambivalence in those we support.”
Mike Evans, who was one of Trump’s evangelical advisors, told the Washington Post, “We had to close our mouths and eyes when (Trump) said things that horrified us. I cannot do that anymore.” And veteran televangelist James Robison compared Trump to a “little elementary schoolchild.”
Texas-based Christian Right evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress told Rolling Stone that he will support Trump if he is the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee, but for now, he isn’t endorsing him.
Jeffress told Rolling Stone, “I believe the Republican Party is headed for a civil war, and that is something I prefer to stay out of. If Donald Trump wins the 2024 nomination — and I think the probability of that is very high — I will gladly and enthusiastically support him.”
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