In a sign of just how important a role social conservative voters will play in determining the 2024 Republican standard-bearer, former President Trump and 10 of his GOP presidential nomination rivals will speak starting Friday at a crucial gathering of evangelical activists and leaders.
Social conservative voters have long been a key part of the Republican Party’s base, and Timothy Head, executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, emphasized that the race for the GOP nomination “goes through the evangelical vote.”
“Anybody that’s going to make it to and through Super Tuesday is going to have to be fluent in speaking to evangelical conservative voters and faithful Catholics, and there really is no plan B in Republican politics at this point,” Head told Fox News.
Almost the entire field of Republican 2024 contenders will join the former president in the nation’s capital at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to the Majority conference.
Evangelical political leaders push back on talk that the role of social conservatives has been diminished as the party’s undergone a populist transformation the past seven years at the hands of Trump.
“For all the sturm and drang that the faith-based community is on the demise in the United States, it still remains basically 70% of the Republican primary electorate,” Head said.
The conference is being held as the nation marks one year since the blockbuster Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the landmark nearly half-century-old Roe v. Wade ruling, which allowed for legalized abortions nationwide. The decision by the high court moved the divisive issue of abortion back to the states.
Head said that what attendees at the conference, “want to hear is a full-throated, unapologetic, passionate address of how a president would plan to defend and restore the protection of innocent life, the defense of religious liberty, the strengthening of the American family, and our partnership with our ally in the Middle East in Israel. Those remain the evergreen four legs to the stool for faith-based voters.”
However, he added that social conservatives, “increasingly they want to hear what a president is going to do about an activist, corporate echelon, plus restoring parental rights in our education system. There are plenty of on-ramps to be able to speak to evangelical voters. But they want to hear passion, and they want to hear a plan.”
Pointing to evangelical voters, Wilson emphasized that “many of them are keeping their powder dry at this moment and waiting to see if any of the other candidates will break hard and gain momentum as they get into this race. These voters, more than anything, want to back a winner who will counter the overreaching woke culture machine that is the Biden administration.”