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“Would anyone like me to run for president?” Former President Donald Trump asked a crowd of thousands in a small corner of the lavish Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville.
Most, but not all, of the electrified audience rose to applaud as Trump beamed from the stage.
Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which organized the event, told reporters he was “focused like a laser beam” on the mid-terms of 2022. But on the second day of the Road to Majority, with Trump’s keynote again hinting at his likely run for the GOP 2024 nomination loomed during the day.
Trump’s hold on the evangelical Christian wing of the Republican Party is strong simply because Trump listened to what voters wanted and delivered on his promises, Reed said.
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The coalition of evangelical voters “doesn’t vote on whether or not you’re going to be an elder in their church or whether you’re going to be admitted to heaven — because only God knows,” Reed said.
The Christian voter does not judge the politician’s heart, according to Reed, but checks whether a politician’s position aligns with his own and assesses how well that politician has delivered on his promises. For many, Trump is the only president to have lived up to his commitments to pro-life, pro-border security and pro-Israel policies.
For Trump, 2024 does not seem distinct from his loss of 2020.
During his 90-minute speech, Trump repeatedly referenced the 2020 election and his unsubstantiated allegations of widespread fraud at virtually every level of voting operations in the states he lost.
And Trump spent several minutes criticizing what he saw as cowardice in former Vice President Mike Pence.
“Mike Pence was blessed to be great,” Trump said, speaking about certifying the 2020 presidential election results, a duty that falls to the vice president. Trump publicly called on Pence to refuse to certify the results in an effort to get state legislatures to review the election results each state had submitted. But Pence “didn’t have the guts to act,” Trump said.
Pence is at the center of the Stop the Steal movement’s wrath for presiding over Congress’ certification of the election. At the Road to Majority conference in 2021, Pence was booed when he took the stage (Reed disagreed that this was a common sentiment and claimed that only a handful of members of the audience had booed).
And, as the Jan. 6 commission repeated many times in hearings this week, some of the Proud Boys and Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol expressed sentiments like “hanging Mike Pence.” .
Reed, who is close friends with Pence, said he has seen many presidents fall out with their number two in the White House. “They have a disagreement that is being played out in public,” Reed said.
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Several Road to Majority conference attendees told Fox News that although Trump is their favorite potential GOP nominee for president in 2024, they still love Pence.
“[Pence] said he had done his due diligence and reviewed the law and how he applied it. I believe that’s why he made this choice – I wouldn’t call him a coward,” Frances Rosales said.
Still, Rosales, who works for the conservative Latinas for Tennessee advocacy group and is a candidate for the Rutherford County School Board, believes there were “irregularities” in the 2020 election. Although she likes Pence as well as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, Trump is his favorite.
“We just have to wait and see how everything goes,” Rosales said.
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As a group of Bible-believing Christians, conference attendees and speakers link political events to scripture — with frequent comparisons of Trump to biblical kings and heroes.
Trump’s spiritual adviser, Paula Cain White, during her address to the crowd, repeated her comparison of Trump to King David, who led the nation of Israel to victory over the enemies of Jerusalem and is called “a man according to the heart of God” in the scriptures.
Like David, Trump is not afraid of what other men can do to him, but “has mental toughness and spiritual strength and an ability to withstand harshness and overwhelming pressure,” White said.
In general, the 2020 election, the Capitol riots, and the state of democracy do not appear to be the focus of the evangelical coalition represented at Road to Majority.
“The economy and national security as well as public safety will always be at the top of the political hierarchy of voters, and we have challenges on all three fronts, from public safety, national security and economic perspective,” Tim Head, executive director of Faith and Freedom Coalition, told Fox News ahead of the conference.
Reed suggested that the Democratic Party’s strategy of focusing on Jan. 6 with committee hearings this summer will backfire.
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“It seems to me that you win elections by talking about the issues that voters care about, and voters are telling you that out loud: economy, inflation, high prices, supply chain, gas prices,” said Reed.
The January 6 committee, which includes two Republicans, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, argues that Trump advocated for the storming of the Capitol and that his role incited violence and constitutes a danger to democracy itself. .
But if that case isn’t something voters care about when gas is pushing $6 a gallon, Democrats could abandon the midterms and lay out ammunition for a 2024 campaign against Trump, Reed said. But he thinks it will also backfire.
“All they’re maybe doing is the same thing they did in all three impeachments, making him a martyr among conservatives and Republicans alike.”
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Brian Crisp, who came to the conference with his wife and son from northern Georgia, said he would vote for Trump if he ran for president, but is also watching DeSantis with interest.
What Crisp wants is for Republicans who win in 2022 and beyond “to continue what Trump started. To continue to do his job whether or not he is president after 2024.”
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Post expires at 4:29am on Wednesday June 29th, 2022