Some 17 million Evangelicals failed to vote in 2008 when Democrat Barack Obama beat the GOP's John McCain — and now the fight is on to get them there this November, Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed says.
And the coalition's conference going on in Washington, D.C., this weekend is a training ground to get that vote out, he told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
GOP leaders including Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are addressing the conference this weekend as they try to ensure a high turnout namong Evangelicals, Catholics, conservative Independents and tea party supporters.
“We had, in 2008, about 17 million self-identified Evangelicals who didn’t go to polls either because they weren’t registered to vote or because they were registered but they didn’t bother,” Reed said.
Watch our exclusive video. Story continues below.
“And we don’t know if we can get all 17 million of them to go to the polls, but we can get millions of them registered to vote and turned out. So this weekend we’re going to be talking to them about the basic blocking and tackling of registering people to vote, making sure they’re educated on where the candidates stand and getting them out to the polls on election day.”
November's election is critical, Reed said, because President Barack Obama is “somebody who’s called for more government, more spending, more bureaucracy. He seems to think the answer to everything that ails America is more government and bigger government.”
Reed also said he believes the Obama administration is engaged in an attack on religious freedom.
“If you look at this administration going into federal court, as it did in the Seattle Christian school case, where they alleged and argued in court, in an amicus curiae brief filed by the Department of Justice, that churches should not be able to determine who they hire — that had never been argued in federal court by an administration in the history of this country.
"Fortunately, they lost that decision nine to nothing, but that just goes to show you how they’re either insensitive to or they’re outright hostile to the expression of religious beliefs in our country….On issue after issue, this administration has shown an insensitivity and a hostility to religious freedom.”
The contrast between Obama and Romney is striking, Reed said, especially on social issues "whether it’s the definition of marriage, where Barack Obama has now flip-flopped; whether it’s religious liberty, where Barack Obama through Obamacare is trying to restrict the freedom of religious charities, churches, hospitals and universities; or whether it’s the protection of innocent human life, where Barack Obama’s pursued a very pro-abortion, extremist agenda and where Mitt Romney and candidates running with him are pro-life.
"This is as stark a contrast as you could have on fiscal, economic, cultural and foreign policy and national security issues that I’ve ever seen in my career.”
Conservative Christians and Evangelical conservatives will play a big role in the upcoming election, Reed said, and they support Romney by about 60 percent, compared to previous support for John McCain (73 percent) and George W. Bush (78 percent).
Reed said Romney needs to get into the 70 percent range. “We’re not really telling Evangelicals how to vote. We’re leaving that to the campaigns to do. But what we are doing is making sure they’re educated on all these issues we’re talking about so that they know where Obama stands and where Romney stands so they can make an educated and informed decision.
"The other thing we’re going to do is we’re going to work double overtime to make sure that the Evangelical vote, which has historically been between 20 and 23 percent of the electorate, turns out in the largest numbers ever seen in a presidential election.”
To do that, Reed said Romney just needs to “make it clear that they have a place at the table in his campaign and will in his administration if he’s elected” and to connect with them on shared values.
“He’s pro-life, he’s pro-marriage, he’s called for a 20 percent across the board tax cut, he supports the [Paul] Ryan budget plan that would get us toward a glide path towards a balanced budget,” Reed said. “So on issue after issue, there’s commonality between voters of faith and Mitt Romney. And he’s speaking here this weekend. He’ll be given an opportunity to make that case.
Reed, when asked about potential Romney running mates, deferred judgment on who should be chosen but said Romney has an “embarrassment of riches” in terms of options.
“If you look at who’s on the bench, whether it’s Gov. Bob McDonnell or Gov. Chris Christie or Gov. Brian Sandoval or Nikki Haley or Susana Martinez or former Gov. Jeb Bush or senators like Rob Portman or Marco Rubio or Jim DeMint and others, Scott Walker might be on that list, John Kasich might be on that list, Congressman Paul Ryan might be on that list.
"This is the strongest and deepest bench for vice president I’ve ever seen in my career. Mitt Romney’s a guy of strong judgment and ability. He’ll make a great pick and I’m sure we’re going to be happy with it.”
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.