Donald Trump's appeals to Christian conservatives has made a strong impression on Ralph Reed, one the group's most prominent leaders.
During the “Road to Majority” conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., the presumptive Republican nominee assured the crowd that he would protect their interests in clear terms.
"We will respect and defend Christian Americans," Trump said, before stressing the last two words of his statement for emphasis. "Christian Americans."
After the speech, Reed, the founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, predicted that evangelical Christians would turn out in big numbers to vote for Donald Trump in the fall election.
“He says he’s pro-life. He’s pro-marriage. He’s for religious freedom. He supported the Hobby Lobby decision. He supports the Little Sisters of the Poor. He opposes the Iran nuclear deal. And he’s strongly pro-Israel,” Reed said in an interview with Bloomberg Politics.
Reed was referring to the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic nuns who work with senior citizens, and the Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., both of whom have been at the center of the fight for religious freedom and against the Obamacare contraceptives mandate.
“On what basis does a person of faith, who believes those are critical, defining issues, either stay at home or vote for a third-party candidate?” said Reed. He remained neutral in the GOP presidential primary, but on Friday came forward in favor of Trump.
Reed told a handful of reporters afterward that the Faith & Freedom Coalition has no qualms about embracing Trump right now, even after Republicans slammed the billionaire's attacks on a federal judge as "racist."
“I know him,” said Reed, who first met Trump six years ago. “I have no question at all about the fact that he judges people based on the content of their character and their abilities, not the color of their skin, or their national origin, or their ethnic or racial background."
“And I’ve had an opportunity to talk to him about it,” Reed said.
Reed added that he thinks it would have been better if Trump's comments about federal judge Gonzalo Curiel had centered on the judge’s conduct rather than his ethnic background.
“Unless something happens pretty dramatically different between now and November,” Reed said, “I think Trump is going to do extremely well with evangelical voters.”
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