Republican strategist Ralph Reed, founder and president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, tells Newsmax that his organization’s massive get-out-the-vote effort will produce the biggest turnout of “conservative people of faith” ever in a presidential election.
He also predicts that three-quarters of evangelicals will overlook differences with Romney’s Mormon faith and vote for the Republican candidate.
And he says Romney should focus on “communicating directly” with undecided voters in Wednesday night’s critical debate.
Reed is the former head of the Christian Coalition. He founded the Faith and Freedom Coalition in 2009.
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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Reed explains how his organization is working tirelessly to help Mitt Romney win in November.
“We have built a file, working with third-party organizations, with voter registration information as well as church membership and conservative and Christian book buyer data and other consumer data, a voter file of faithful Catholics and evangelical Christians that has 17.1 million voters in the roughly 15 or 20 states that will decide the outcome of this election,” he says.
“We’re going to be contacting every one of those households a minimum of seven times, including three pieces of mail, two phone calls. We have over 13 million cellphone numbers for these voters.
“In Ohio yesterday when early voting began, hundreds of thousands of conservative voters of faith received a text message from us that was an Ohio voter alert, letting them know that early voting began, sending them a link to a voter guide so they knew where the candidates stood, and providing them with a link to the early voting location nearest them.
“We’re going to be knocking on about 2 million doors. I think we’re going to see the biggest turnout of conservative people of faith that we’ve seen in a presidential election, and when they come I think there may be some surprises.”
Reed’s appeal to evangelical voters helped George W. Bush win the White House in 2000. Asked if he thinks his efforts will prove successful this year, Reed responds: “I couldn’t begin to tell you what will happen on Nov. 6 other than the fact that I think it’s basically a jump ball.
“If you look at the Washington Post/ABC News poll that came out on Monday, they’ve got it at 49 percent Obama, 47 Romney nationally. That’s roughly within the margin of error.
“You look at the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that came out last night, they’ve got it at 49 to 46 [for Obama]. And their state polls show Romney gaining and closing in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Iowa and in other battleground states. So my sense is, if the race is a two-point race, it’s basically tied.
“And the same is true in a lot of these Senate races. In Virginia, [Democrat Tim] Kaine and [Republican George] Allen are basically tied. In Ohio, [Republican Josh] Mandel and [Democrat] Sherrod Brown are within the margin of error. [Republican] Todd Akin has closed and in some polls is even ahead of Claire McCaskill in Missouri.
“I can tell you this, we’re going to do everything we can to insure that people of faith who hold to the time-honored principles of faith and freedom that made this country great, we’re going to make sure that every one of them that we can is registered to vote, informed and educated, and goes to the polls.”
Discussing Wednesday night’s first presidential debate, Reed observes: “The debate’s going to be critical. My unsolicited advice to Mitt Romney is that he needs to be less focused on beating Obama as a debater, because that would be falling into the trap of playing to Obama’s greatest strength, which is his eloquence and his ability to articulate a message even if the message isn’t accurate.
“Instead he should focus on communicating directly to the voters who are yet undecided and are going to be watching this debate. He needs to lay out what his prescription is for the country, what his values and beliefs are, who he is, and what his plan is to restart this economy, to create jobs, and to restore America once again to a position of strength in the world.”
Romney is pro-life and for traditional marriage, yet he is avoiding these issues in the general election. But Reed points out: “Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have made it abundantly clear that when it comes to the issues that give meaning to the souls of millions of Americans, issues like the sanctity of life and marriage, religious liberty — the Obama administration has promulgated a mandate on religious charities including soup kitchens, homeless shelters, colleges and universities, and hospitals, that they have to cover healthcare services that violate their religious teaching and assault their conscience — Romney and Ryan have made their position very clear.
“So that’s out there. I think it’s been fully litigated and I think a lot of voters are going to cast their ballot not just on the economy and jobs, although clearly the election is largely about the poor economic performance of this administration, but I think a lot of voters are concerned about these issues and they will cast their ballots accordingly.”
Asked if Romney can overcome evangelicals’ distrust of his Mormonism in the election, Reed responds: “I certainly don’t want to diminish the significance of the theological differences between orthodox evangelical Christians and the Mormon Church. Those differences have deep historic roots and those differences will remain regardless of what happens on Nov. 6.
“But I think if you look at the polling, for instance the Pew Research Center Poll, they found that Mitt Romney was getting about 71 percent of the evangelical vote. Others show it at about 65 percent of the evangelical vote. I think it’s going to be at least what George W. Bush got in 2000, which was 68 percent. I think it’s more likely to be closer to what McCain got four years ago, which was 73 percent.
“So I think this vote is coming. I think it’s going to be big numerically and in terms of the share of the electorate.
“Remember this is about one out of every four voters in America, and if you add in faithful Catholics who are another 12 percent of the electorate, it’s about 38 to 40 percent of the entire vote. And the polling shows that they’re going to be voting two to one or three to one for Mitt Romney.”
Information about Reed’s get-out-the-vote campaign can be found at the website ffcoalition.com.
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