Faith and Freedom Coalition Executive Chairman Ralph Reed joined SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam and co-host Steve Bannon on Breitbart News Saturday to talk about the role of evangelical voters in the Trump presidency and the upcoming midterm elections.
Reed said the importance of the evangelical coalition to President Trump’s victory in 2016 was a matter of “simple math,” citing exit polls that showed “the self-identified evangelical vote alone was 27 percent of the electorate.”
“That was the largest, by the way, ever recorded in a modern election, meaning since modern exit polling began in 1982,” he noted.
“If you add to that the frequently Mass-attending Catholics who do not self-identify as having had a born-again experience – by the way, I should tell you an interesting little demographic and sort of sociological piece of trivia: 10 percent of Catholics identify as evangelicals and say they’ve been born again, but 90 percent do not – so nine percent to 10 percent of the electorate, let’s be conservative and say nine percent, are faithful frequently Mass-attending Catholics, and they voted roughly two to one for Donald Trump,” he said.
“So if you take this constituency, it’s 36 percent of the electorate, that’s larger than the union vote, the feminist vote, the gay vote, and the Hispanic vote combined,” said Reed.
“They’re fearless, and they get the joke,” he said of the faith vote. “When the Access Hollywood tape hit, remember, these folks had gone through the DWI being dropped on George W. Bush on the Thursday before the election in 2000. Whenever you have anyone who is willing to deliver on the issues and the values that beat in the heart, and give meaning to the souls of these people, they know you’re going to come under attack.”
Reed said the top “beating heart issue” is life, so when Trump “got up in the debate – I believe that was on October 10th or 11th – and Chris Wallace asked about the court appointments, and specifically asked about late-term abortion, Hillary kind of blew it off, didn’t even show any concern for the moral objections of tens of millions of people.”
“Donald Trump turned to her and said words that I believe won the election,” Reed recalled. “He said, ‘What you’re saying is that minutes before an unborn child is born, it is OK to rip that baby from its mother’s womb. That’s what you’re saying.’ And he said, ‘That may be OK with you. It is not OK with me.’”
He said his conversations with Trump convinced him that “this is a genuinely personal, deeply personal commitment for him.”
“The media wants us to think that he was some late convert who did not care about this, and was just playing the faith community. Not true. I know it for a fact,” he declared.
Reed said the second crucial issue joining Trump to the evangelical community is “support for the state of Israel, and relatedly, his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.”
“He went all over this country, in arena after arena, and he said, ‘This is the worst deal, this is the most disastrous deal we’ve ever gone with, and If I’m president, I’ll do something about it.’ Hillary not only supported it, she helped negotiate it,” he said.
The third vital issue Reed spoke about was religious liberty, which is still a work in progress for the Trump administration.
“The first thing that has not happened yet that needs to be finalized, and I think everybody’s aware of this, is HHS and other departments have got to systematically repeal these regulations under Obamacare and other departments that were infringing on the Little Sisters of the Poor and other faith-based organizations that were told that they had to provide health insurance that provided medication that took innocent human life, and trampled on their rights of conscience and their faith,” he said.
“That is still as yet undone. We know it will be done. It needs to be done,” he stressed.
Reed also referred to President Trump’s May executive order to cease enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, which “restricts the right of a church or a ministry to speak out on political matters.”
“That executive order is gone as soon as there is a Democrat in the White House,” he warned. “That needs to be done legislatively, hopefully in the tax bill.”
Reed spoke of the importance of pro-lifers in the Alabama Senate race, where Judge Roy Moore’s victory in the GOP Primary has him running against Democrat Doug Jones. Jones declared this week that he supports abortion without restriction until the moment of a child’s birth.
“I think he’s completely out of the mainstream,” Reed said of Jones. “I think the days when you could have, for lack of a better term, a ‘centrist’ or a ‘moderate’ Democrat who was pro-life – you know, back when I got involved in this business over 30 years ago, you had 60 of those guys in the House. By the time Obama got there, there were 30. Now today there’s probably three left. In the Senate, [Bob] Casey’s the only one, and he’s a complete liberal on everything else, so he becomes virtually worthless. I think it’s going to have a big impact on the race in Alabama.”
“I think a lot of people don’t get this,” Reed said. “I saw one allegedly smart journalist say on one of the cable shows, ‘What Roy Moore’s victory shows is that the Trump phenomenon has now transcended Trump himself. It is now spreading across America like a contagion.’ He’s got it exactly backwards. The reason why Trump is president is because the phenomenon was there before he ever got there. He was the one who got it and was willing to articulate it.”
To buttress that point, he noted that Judge Moore was “winning statewide races in Alabama before Donald Trump was ever running for office.”
“What Trump did is he was fearless enough, courageous enough, to articulate those things. And this is the key: when he was attacked by the media, unlike every Republican politician in a blue suit and a red tie before him, he not only did not bend, he leaned into it and he hit them back. That’s what people want, and that’s what they’re hungering for,” he said.
Reed promised that the Faith and Freedom Coalition would remain highly active in the Alabama Senate race and other contests throughout the midterm elections.
“We knocked on 1,256,000 doors in 2016. We turned out an estimated 20 to 30 million evangelical voters. We’re going to do that in 2018,” he vowed.
He said the Faith and Freedom Coalition is a place where “people of faith and their allies who love freedom and want to preserve it can come to influence legislation and elect like-minded people, to transform our country to a moral renewal that will return us to the values on which we were founded.”
“We have chapters in 30 states. We have full-time staff in a dozen states. We’re walking the halls of state capitols. We’re passing pro-life, and pro-family, and limited-government legislation all over America,” he said, encouraging listeners from every state to use the Coalition’s website to volunteer for membership or start up their own chapters.