David Brody

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Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

Donald Trump continues to amaze. Wednesday afternoon, he strode onto the Regent University stage (an influential Christian University) and received a prolonged standing ovation from the evangelical audience.  He went on to speak eloquently about the importance of family (he even brought out his two sons who spoke highly of him), nominating pro-life judges, defending Israel, etc. After hearing what he had to say, he left over an hour later to another standing ovation. I saw it with my own two eyes. I was there as the moderator of this presidential forum. After seeing those evangelicals rise to their feet, I thought to myself how Ted Cruz must be downing huge Alka-Seltzer tablets as we speak.  After all, it was Cruz who was supposed to get all the love from evangelicals. Instead, Trump has invaded his turf. What happened?

Let’s start with this: Ted Cruz is in the process of being defined and if he doesn’t turn his narrative around quickly, he’ll be “Texas Toast” on Super Tuesday. He has to win his home state of Texas and while he has a good shot at it there’s still about a week to go. Unfortunately for Cruz, he lost control of the narrative right after Iowa.  He won the evangelical vote by 13% over Trump but then things changed. The “dirty tricks” story about Ben Carson broke the next day along with the ethically challenged Iowa mailer they sent out that Iowa election officials had a few problems with. Trump and Rubio pounced on the “liar, phony” theme and it began to stick. If you’re running as the evangelical candidate, the last thing you can afford is a narrative that paints you as the guy who plays dirty. Fast-forward two weeks later to South Carolina. Cruz went from winning the evangelical vote by 13% In Iowa to losing it by 7% in South Carolina. That’s a 20-point swing in Trump’s favor. Nevada just continued the trend Tuesday night.

Trump, on the other hand, is coming across as a, “shoot from the hip straight talking street fighter” that will go down swinging for Christianity (whatever that means exactly).  The evangelicals that support Trump trust his words. Why? Because Trump’s brand is winning and success so they see someone that delivers and follows through on his promises. It’s simply an intangible that you can’t create in a test tube. Trump also shows that he relates well to blue-collar evangelicals. These are Reagan Democrats, the exact voters that Cruz needs and has been courting but instead it’s Trump who has forged that emotional bond with them. There’s a reason for that.

You see, Trump is a true outsider who speaks like a true outsider. That leads to authenticity. Cruz, on the other hand is trying to play the outsider role but from an inside position. He’s a U.S. Senator, who speaks like a U.S. Senator. In other words, he doesn’t give voters the same authentic vibe as Trump. And that’s a problem. Ultimately, politics is about forging an emotional connection with voters. Bill Clinton did it. George W. Bush did it. Barack Obama did it. And Donald Trump is now doing it. Is it fair to someone like Cruz who is a staunch rock-ribbed conservative? No it’s not. Is it a reality? Unfortunately for Cruz it is. So what can Cruz do? Honestly, he has to continue to hammer home the “fake conservative” Trump storyline and hope that it will eventually stick with voters. The problem is that Cruz has pretty much thrown the kitchen sink at Trump and many evangelicals are doing a collective yawn. That’s a problem.

Look, evangelicals are not a monolithic group. Trump may be leading with evangelicals but there are plenty that want nothing to do with him. But he’s attracting more than enough to win these primaries and Super Tuesday could bring more of the same. In 2008, Barack Obama promised, “Hope and Change” and voters bought it. Trump is promising to, “Make America Great Again.” and voters seem to be buying what he’s selling. Will he deliver if he becomes President of the United States? That’s unknown. What is known is that Donald Trump gets standing ovations from evangelicals because when it comes to political correctness, or ISIS, or defending Christianity or restoring America’s standing in the world or just plain winning again for this country, they believe he’ll fight and get the job done. Many evangelicals are saying Amen to what Trump is preaching.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 7:25 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

David, that is one rock-solid article. Very straight-shooting with great insight. My husband and I live in Texas and supported Cruz at first until Trump entered the race.

We still liked Cruz at the time but quickly realized Trump was far more capable and had an obvious presidential mantle that very few could compete with. We saw a man who could not be bought and pushed around and would fight for America and for Christians.

We were hoping for a Trump/Cruz ticket (not Cruz/Trump, though), as were many others. But as time went on, it became apparent to us that Cruz was no more than a wolf in sheep's clothing.

We switched from supporting Cruz to WARNING people about the wolf he really is. Jesus said we would know them by their fruit. As Cruz's fruit is rotting an falling off the tree, some still insist he is the standard of morality we need in the White House.

Trump is by no means perfect, but he is GENUINE and not a hypocrite. He has the kind of heart that can B steered by the Lord.
Left by Donna Vermillion on Feb 25, 2016 1:30 AM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

Very good objective reporting and commentary on Trump. I left the Southern Baptist Convention because of my concern of their heavy involvement as an organization in the Republican primary. The spokesman for the SBC though the ERLC Russell Moore is outrageous in his opposition of Trump. In fact he is a Rubio supporter but cannot publicly proclaim. Christians like everyone else vote for a variety of reasons. There is no religious test. Russell Moore for example strongly suggest if Christians vote for Trump they may have lost their Christian values. Most Christians know they are voting for a political leader not a religious leader for the nation. It is up to me to raise my family correctly and morally. It is up to me to instill value values, build character, set moral guidelines and take my family to whatever church I chose,that is not up to the President of the United States or the government. Trump is not anti Christian, he is not disrespectful to Christians .Defends Christians
Left by steve s on Feb 25, 2016 9:45 AM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

I seriously doubt the sincerity of their faith of any Christian who is supporting this evil man, Donald Trump. Where is the Holy Spirit within them, guiding them to make good and moral decisions. Trump is vulgar, indecent, immature man whose personal life is worse than anything that Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy have ever done. He has been married 3 times, with his first two marriages ending due to his sexual affairs. He owns strip clubs that employ women to entice married men. He has no respect for women. He evaded military service, using his wealth to get multiple draft deferments. Then, after many from his generation had fought and died in Vietnam, Donald Trump told a radio host that avoiding STDs from his frequent sexual affairs -- that was "his personal Vietnam". Can any real Christian vote for this guy? Tell me how. We already have TWO solid born-again Christians, in Cruz and Rubio, to pick from.
Left by AllenLA on Feb 25, 2016 10:11 AM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

This article is sadly accurate except for this sentence: "Trump is a true outsider who speaks like a true outsider." Donald Trump is a consummate insider, who until his recently-discovered affinity for Southern evangelicals, was hobnobbing and making nice with the liberal power-brokers he now claims to disavow.

Trump is a godless man whose only loyalty is to himself. He has bewitched the evangelical community, which will come to regret their support for him.
Left by BillofIreland on Feb 25, 2016 10:22 AM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

Trump is fearless-unapologetic-so great to see evangelical community backing him--we need you guys!
Left by RCgirl on Feb 25, 2016 11:20 AM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

This is in stark contrast to the views of many (most?) evangelical leaders. Both Lifeway (Southern Baptist publishing house) and the evangelical, World Magazine, have recently published the results of the presidential preferences of evangelical leaders. Either Cruz or Rubio were their top choices with Ben Carson also receiving some support. Donald Trump was at or near the bottom. Why the disconnect between the pulpit and the pew? I cast my lot with the spiritual leaders and am dismayed at how many evangelicals seem mesmerized by a person (Trump) who seems periously close to being a right wing demagogue.
Left by realc on Feb 25, 2016 12:09 PM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

Actually what leads to authenticity is having a record of doing what you say you will do. That is Ted Cruz. But it isn't Donald Trump, who often does 180 reversals in the same speech.

When Trump "strode" onto the stage, did he also speak eloquently about his strip clubs?

Or the time he told Phil Donahue he was a thinker, so of course he was an atheist?

Did he brag about sex with married women, as he did in his books?

Did he amaze the crowd by describing Paris Hilton's sex tape, or premature ejaculation, as he did with Howard Stern?

Maybe he called someone the "P" word, or used his favorite term for women ("pieces of a--"), or engaged in his non-stop pathological lying.

Like many who have fallen for Trump, you can't keep yourself from disparaging the true decent Christian in the race.

Suggest you google "America Under A Strong Delusion" and read the article. It's about you and your boss, Pat Robertson.

No need to print this. It's enough to know you read it.
Left by Judith on Feb 25, 2016 12:15 PM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

In 2004 in response to W Bush claiming he does well in the South because "they share my values" an essay was written stating that in politics "VALUES" is merely a dog whistle code for "RACE". Trumps reception from evangelicals merely proves the truth of that essay.

I mean over 95% of Blacks in the South did not support Bush so either Blacks and Whites have different values or "values" as Bush was using it to describe Southern Whites meant something else. We now see from evangelicals support for Trump that "values" means being able to hate Blacks and others without paying the price charged by the other GOP candidates including W and other Bushes of giving everything to billionaires.
Left by Dangoodbar on Feb 25, 2016 12:27 PM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

Great article! As an evangelical I am supporting Trump with great opposition from many fellow believers. They are looking at the foul language. I am looking at him as authentic and as a man who is not controlled by the establishment. There is virtually no difference in democrats and republicans once they land in DC for any length of time. I am tired of republican RINO's and establishment globalists who promise the Christian community the world and give us next to nothing. Trump is our revolt to the status quo.
Left by WVBORN56 on Feb 25, 2016 12:44 PM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

Some of the evangelical support for Trump is due to their dislike and distrust of Catholics (though I do know some evangelicals who like Rubio).
I'm also reminded of the Kennedy-Nixon race where some in the USA whispered about the Pope in the White House.
Trump sent a signal to them with his "the Pope... disgraceful" remark.
I tend to vote Republican, but will never join ranks with those bigots for Trump.
Left by CorintoAmerican on Feb 25, 2016 12:50 PM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

"He went on to speak eloquently about the importance of family (he even brought out his two sons who spoke highly of him), nominating pro-life judges, defending Israel, etc. After hearing what he had to say, he left over an hour later to another standing ovation"

Amazing how TRUMP is glorified on his words. But what about his actions? Or his fruit to quote Jesus our Lord and Savior?
* He upgraded on his wives twice. Adulterous affairs and even bragged about his prowess with other married women. I wonder about his impact on the families of those?
* Trump was for Partial Birth Abort - (See Tim Russert) and an avid pro choice.
* Trump has given to many liberal causes and politicians, even Hillary.
* He curses and spews venom/vilifies anyone who disagrees with him - say who does that sound like?

You are being taken in by his "words". Look at his fruit. I am greatly discouraged by evangelicals who are taken in by words rather than our Lords warnings - you shall know them by their Fruit
Left by Backfire on Feb 25, 2016 1:48 PM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

I posted comments hours ago, why have they not been posted?
Left by realc on Feb 25, 2016 3:46 PM

# RE: Donald Trump’s Evangelical Standing Ovation

All evangelicals want is a chance to speak and be heard, because we have the greatest message ever. Political correctness is killing that.

I am a college educated evangelical who voted for Trump in SC. I'm probably not supposed to exist. I know Trump is not perfect, but neither am I.

But where the Word goes, forgiveness follows. Free the Word, it will set you free.
Left by Chris0706 on Feb 25, 2016 8:07 PM