DONALD TRUMP TO EVANGELICALS: YOU CAN’T BREAK UP WITH ME BECAUSE I’M BREAKING UP WITH YOU FIRST
As several high-profile evangelical leaders quietly ditch Trump going into the 2024 presidential cycle, Trump slams the religious right for being “disloyal” and failing to fight hard enough in the midterms.
Donald Trump greets people at his MaraLago home on December 31 2022 in Palm Beach Florida.
Donald Trump greets people at his Mar-a-Lago home on December 31, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.BY JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES
Ever since Donald Trump kicked off his third presidential bid in November, several high-profile evangelical leaders and activists have signaled that they want a new standard-bearer to lead the Republican Party into 2024. Unsurprisingly, these objections are not sitting well with the former president. “That’s a sign of disloyalty,” he told Real America’s Voice on Monday after host David Brody referenced Trump’s evangelical critics. “There’s great disloyalty in the world of politics, and that’s a sign of disloyalty.”
Trump then argued that he deserves the devotion of the religious right because “nobody has ever done more for ‘right to life’ than Donald Trump. I put three Supreme Court justices who all voted [to overturn Roe v. Wade]…. They won, they finally won.”
Last month, I spoke to a few of the evangelical leaders that Trump is now lashing out at, including Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats, who said that “a silent majority” is forming among conservatives opposed to another Trump bid. One major evangelical leader, who asked to remain anonymous in our conversation, argued that the aversion toward Trump stems from the view that Republicans would “get crushed” in the general election should Trump win another Republican primary.
Early signs of Republicans’ electability problems came in the midterms, where Democrats over-performed expectations, keeping the Senate and ceding only a small majority to Republicans in the House. In a widely circulated Washington Times column, Everett Piper, the former president of an evangelical university, charged Trump with bleeding the possibility of red wave dry. “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,” wrote Piper in a midterm autopsy. “The take-home of this past week is simple: Donald Trump has to go. If he’s our nominee in 2024, we will get destroyed.”
Trump, however, is laying blame for the GOP’s most recent electoral failures on the feet of evangelical leaders. “I was a little disappointed because I thought they could have fought much harder during the election,” he told Real America’s Voice. “A lot of them didn’t fight or weren’t really around to fight, and it did energize the Democrats.”