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In an interview with David Brody of Real America’s Voice, former President Donald Trump criticized former evangelical allies who have remained on the fence about his 2024 run. Brody asked Trump his opinions about “prominent evangelicals” who have remained silent on his bid for the White House. Trump responded by saying, “It’s a sign of disloyalty. There is great disloyalty in the world of politics.” He cited his achievements in pro-life circles, including nominating three of the Supreme Court judges who overturned Roe v. Wade last summer. Trump said he was “disappointed” by the lack of turnout of pro-lifers in the recent midterm elections, which resulted in smaller Republican wins than had been predicted. “A lot of them didn’t fight or weren’t really around to fight, and it did energize the Democrats. … There’s nobody that’s done more for the movement than I have, and that includes the movement of evangelicals and Christians and the movement very much of the Right of Life,” he said.

There have been early warning signs that evangelicals, who helped Trump win his 2016 election, are wary of another Donald Trump election cycle. James Robison, president of Life Outreach International, who had once acted as Trump’s spiritual adviser, spoke some harsh words about the former president at the National Association of Christian Lawmakers last November after Trump announced his 2024 run. Robison criticized the way Trump handled advice from him over the five years the two had spoken with one another and revealed in one conversation how he had said, “Sir, you act like a little elementary school child, and you shoot yourself in the foot every morning you get up and open your mouth. The more you keep your mouth closed, the more successful you’re gonna be.” He stated he doubted Trump had the temperament to help the Republicans face tough issues. “If Mr. Trump can’t stop his little petty issues, how does he expect people to stop major issues?” he said. After the disappointing Republican mid-term results, Everett Piper wrote, “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.”

Evangelicals appear to be looking towards candidates with a similar Trumpian style without all the baggage such a style can entail. Despite not having entered the 2024 presidential race yet, Ron DeSantis continues to gain traction among Republican voters. A UMass Amherst Poll found the current Governor of Florida leads Donald Trump 51-49 in a heads-up match between the two. When the race was broadened out with other candidates like former Vice President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, Trump jumped ahead against DeSantis, 37-40. Tatishe Nteta, director of the poll, summed up the findings saying, “…if the race comes down to the two current frontrunners, former President Donald Trump and the current governor of the state of Florida Ron DeSantis, the election is a statistical dead heat. In the coming year, if the election does indeed become a two-person race, GOP voters will have a difficult decision to make between two viable and popular candidates.” 

However, the likelihood that Republicans will opt for a different candidate in 2024 is not set in stone. Real Clear Politics still shows Donald Trump as the most likely presidential candidate, with a 13-point lead over DeSantis. Pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, head of Pastors for Trump, spoke on “The Water Cooler” podcast admonishing evangelicals to get over their “short-term memory loss” over what Trump has done for them. “How in the world could Evangelical leaders not get behind Donald Trump in 2024?” he asked. “Especially in comparison to Joe Biden, who is anti-God, anti-family. Our nation is under attack right now at all levels.”

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