For two presidential election cycles, evangelical voters offered little more than half-hearted support for the campaigns of John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Donald Trump appears determined to change all that.
A confident Mr. Trump stood before a clearly excited crowd at the Value Voters Summit yesterday and held up his childhood Bible given to him by his mother. The move brought about an extended moment of applause – the first of many rounds of applause by a critically important segment of Republican voters many are surprises to see so supportive of the New York billionaire’s political campaign.
“God bless you! You changed everything!”
So said a woman at the Christian-themed event to the candidate who presently leads the GOP field among White evangelical voters with 32% support.
During his speech, Mr. Trump repeated a common theme of his campaign – attacking seemingly spineless politicians more concerned over good public relations than fighting for the values voters sent them to Washington D.C. to defend.
“These people, they’re babies, they’re babies!”
Trump noted how poorly the Middle Class was being hurt and promised to bring jobs back to America. Alongside his pleas for a stronger U.S. economy was a moment where Mr. Trump reflected on how it bothered him to see the phrase “Merry Christmas” under constant attack by liberal progressives.
“I want to see Christmas. You’re going to see it if I get elected.”
That line elicited another round of enthusiastic applause for the Republican candidate for president.
The only moment of potential controversy for Mr. Trump was when he called out GOP rival Marco Rubio for being, “a clown.” Some in the audience began to boo the comments, though it remains unclear if they were booing Donald Trump, or the mention of Marco Rubio.
By the time Trump left the stage, the audience offered him another wave of applause. For now, Donald Trump remains the candidate of choice for evangelical voters if for nothing more than he seems the one most willing to fight for their beliefs. If he is able to maintain that support in the coming months, it might prove the most significant factor in his hopes of attaining the White House.