The mainstream media and some Democrats have seriously misjudged social conservatives’ impassioned engagement on fiscal issues, and President Barack Obama’s hopes for re-election could therefore be in serious jeopardy, according to CBN chief political correspondent David Brody.
Brody, author of the new book “The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party are Taking Back America,” told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview that conservative Christians may be a majority of the grass-roots conservatives generically dubbed the tea parties.
Watch the exclusive video here. Story continues below.
He adds that there are strong indications the tea party evangelicals will “show up in spades” to vote in November – not a good sign for the incumbent president.
Brody told Newsmax that he first became aware of the tea party-Christian nexus in 2009 and 2010, when he noticed prayer circles at grassroots rallies.
Subsequently, polls showed that between 40 and 55 percent of tea party members are evangelical Christians – despite the fact that the tea parties focus on small-government, constitutional principles rather than pro-life, pro-family issues.
“Here’s the shocking news for mainstream media,” Brody said, “and that is: Guess what, evangelicals are not a one- or two-trick pony. It’s not just about the life issue, it’s not just about the marriage issue only -- they actually care about pocketbook issues.
“What a shock [to the media] that evangelicals care about this type of stuff: They care about the future of our country and our grandchildren’s children and all of that. They care about what’s going in this country as it relates to debt,” said Brody.
That engagement on social issues among social-conservatives this cycle, especially considering the moribund state of the U.S. economy, could bode ill for President Obama’s re-election prospects.
Brody noted that Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group created to connect social conservatives to the grass-roots conservative movement, has captured the e-mails and phone numbers of 13 million evangelical Christians.
According to Brody, Reed has established the goal of getting 7 million more Christians to vote in 2012 than in 2008.
“But if they can get only 3 million, it’s game, set, match,” said Brody. “I would tend to agree with that. I think Romney can start sending the thank-you notes to teavangelicals.
“If 3 million more of them show up in 2012, I think it’s a real possibility and the unions would be definitely scared at that point. Oh and by the way, the president might be a tad bit scared, too,” Brody said.
Other highlights from the exclusive interview:
- Brody told Newsmax he believes evangelicals, with their social-conservative concerns, have exerted a moderating influence on the grass-roots organizations, preventing them from adopting purely libertarian positions that would be unpalatable to the electorate at large. That’s one reason the grass-roots movement has had much more staying power than many expected.
- The reason tea partiers are no longer orchestrating huge rallies is that many of them have decided to effect change in their local communities. “And that’s where the tea party is now,” he said. “They’re in the local communities.” Brody said that pervasive presence on the local level is “menacing, especially, to liberals in this country.”
- Brody told Newsmax that many evangelicals share the libertarian concern that big government has become an existential threat to society. “They believe that government is getting bigger than God,” he said. “God is getting smaller, government is getting bigger and that’s the way they see it. You know, tea party libertarians like to say we want to return to constitutionally-limited government. evangelical Christians -- these teavangelicals -- see it as a return to Judeo-Christian principles.”
- The CBN correspondent said the Romney campaign needs to “take a page from Rick Santorum’s playbook and start to weave a pro-family message in” in order to strengthen his appeal to tea party evangelicals. He added that to do that, the former Massachusetts governor will have to restrain his penchant for focusing on numbers and statistics.
- Brody said the era of strong hierarchical leadership from iconic Christians such as the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham and the Rev. Jerry Falwell may be fading, as evangelical conservatives seek a more bottom-up approach.
Asked who the next great generation of Christian leaders will be, Brody said: “Really, I think we’re in the process now of forming who those new leaders are going to be. And I think right now the country, and these teavangelicals, are in a mood to have no one tell them who their leaders are, just like the tea party doesn’t want anybody dictating from the top.”
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