Republican presidential candidates made obligatory appearances last weekend at the Faith & Freedom Coalition gathering in Washington, D.C., but it was the “guy [who] ended Roe” — Donald Trump — who received top billing with a prime time slot.
“There’s no path to the Republican nomination for president that doesn’t go through the evangelical community,” warned Ralph Reed, Faith and Freedom Coalition founder and chairman.
To prove his Christian bonafides, Trump told the crowd of evangelicals, “No president has ever fought for Christians as hard as I have.” In boasting about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, he said, “I got it done, and nobody thought it was even a possibility.” Trump claimed to the evangelicals: “You have power for the first time.” He harped repeatedly on his role in packing the Supreme Court with anti-abortionist justices, bragging, “A woman stood up and said, ‘This guy ended Roe v. Wade. How the hell can you go against him?’”
The New York Times reported Trump got an ovation by the few thousand in attendance when he mentioned the ruling. Trump even seemed to blame his indictment as reprisal against his representation of the Christians assembled, saying, “I’m being indicted for you.” “Together,” he said, “we’re warriors in a righteous crusade to stop the arsonists, the atheists, globalists and the Marxists.”
Most other candidates, who received 15 minutes to Trump’s hour and a half, similarly emphasized their anti-abortion credentials, including former Vice President Mike Pence, who had spoken earlier at an anti-abortion rally. At the “Road to Majority Policy Conference,” Pence said: “Every Republican candidate for president should support a ban on abortion before 15 weeks as a minimum nationwide standard.”
“Thank God Almighty for the Dobbs decision,” intoned U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.
Nikki Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, called herself the “most pro-life governor in the country” when she was in charge of South Carolina (the state that Scott represents in the Senate).
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in his address to the evangelical audience implicitly criticized Trump for stating that Florida’s six-week ban is “too harsh.” He also absurdly said, “The left is lighting the fire of a cultural revolution all across this land. We are told that we must accept that men can get pregnant.” DeSantis made a point of supporting Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in the face of ProPublica reports of their ethics violations.
While Trump didn’t specifically respond to Pence’s abortion ultimatum, he pleased what USA Today called “an adoring crowd of religious conservatives” by proferring that “there, of course, remains a vital role for the federal government in protecting unborn life.” Republican communications consultant Alice Stewart drew loud applause, USA Today noted, when she said that “we may not like how he does things but he has delivered on what we wanted.”
That seems to be the litmus test for GOP presidential candidates.
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.