PALM BEACH, FL. - In a recent interview with televangelist David Brody, former President Donald Trump discussed the importance of loyalty among evangelical leaders in politics and the damage done to Republicans who advocated for No Exceptions to abortion restrictions.
Trump noted that Supreme Court justices he appointed overturned federal abortion rights in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision last summer, something anti-abortion groups had been fighting for 64 years. In addition, he noted great disloyalty among political leaders who refused to support his latest campaign.
Trump criticized religious conservatives and anti-abortion activists who lost "large numbers of voters" in the 2022 midterm elections due to their hardline stance regarding abortions, even when it came to cases such as rape, incest, or the life of the mother. This drew sharp criticism from various figures, including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America president Marjorie Dannenfelser who accused Republicans of using an "Ostrich Strategy" on abortion and avoiding the issue rather than addressing it during critical elections.
Trump also admitted that he advised 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidates Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania and Tudor Dixon of Michigan that they would face a tougher path to victory for refusing to back exceptions for abortion restrictions, both of whom ultimately lost their election races. According to CNN reports, Trump complained privately about how the overturning of Roe v. Wade raised attention away from more favorable topics such as inflation and crime.
Many allies and advisers have pointed out how crucial religious conservatives are within the conservative ecosystem and how their sway can be felt during presidential primaries – something which Trump is likely cognizant of, considering he picked Mike Pence in 2016 as his running mate to garner support from these groups who were hesitant about his brash political brand.
As Reed put it:
There's no path to the nomination without winning the evangelical vote. Nobody knows that better than President Trump because, to the surprise of almost everyone, he won their support in 2016."
For Trump to secure a second term as President, however, he will need to prove that he is electable and committed to advancing causes important to religious conservatives. This could prove difficult given his current criticisms against them and other primary contenders likely vying for their votes at that time.
Ultimately, this is clear: Trump understands both how influential evangelicals are politically and how precarious their loyalty can be when push comes to shove come election season. This makes it all the more imperative that he handles this delicate relationship with care if he wishes to secure enough votes next time.
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