When Donald Trump won the United States presidency last year, much of the nation was taken by surprise.
And while Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has suggested some possible factors behind her loss in her recently released book What Happened, Ralph Reed, Founder & Chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, believes there were three "inflection points" that decided the outcome of the election.
“There were undoubtedly others,” he told members of the NRB President’s Council gathered in Washington, D.C., earlier this month for the 2017 Capitol Hill Media Summit.
But three stand out in Reed’s mind that likely led to large, key groups of undecided voters ultimately supporting the Republican presidential nominee.
The first, he said, was in May 2016, when Trump did what no other candidate for president has done in American history: released a list of names from which he would fill the vacancy left by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“I will choose – not someone like these 21,” Reed paraphrased Trump as saying. “I will choose from the list.”
“No one had ever done that,” Reed noted. “Had he not done that, he would not have had the kind of turnout of evangelical voters that he did. It was a critical moment.”
The second moment was in July 2016, when Trump selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate.
“It’s the only presidential-level decision a candidate for president makes during the campaign,” Reed said.
“And it was deeply revealing of his values, of his beliefs, and of his governing priorities,” he added, noting Pence’s faith, stance on key issues, and role in advancing a conservative agenda.
The third inflection point in the campaign, according to Reed, was in October 2016, during the second presidential debate, when the topic of late-term abortion came up and Trump chided Clinton for allowing someone to “rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”
“Now, you can say that that’s OK, and Hillary can say that that’s OK. But it’s not OK with me,” Trump said.
“And you could almost feel across the country those last remaining evangelical Christians – and especially the faithful and conservative Roman Catholics – go, ‘OK, if he’s willing to say that …’,” Reed commented. Reed believed Trump’s response was “from the heart” and said it was not what he had been advised to say.
“Those were the three inflection points,” Reed concluded.
And when combined with the many other issues, problems, and reservations surrounding Clinton, those moments “resulted in Donald Trump winning 81 percent of the [white] evangelical vote – which was the largest share of that vote ever carried by a nominee of either party in the modern political period.”
Adding to that mass-attending Catholics, Trump gained support from the majority of the largest single voting bloc in the electorate. And, according to Reed, Trump is well aware how critical this constituency is. Reed said the president has delivered “consistently and repeatedly” for that constituency.
Still, while noting several of the actions taken in President Trump’s first 200 days in office, Reed acknowledged that there is yet much work to do.
Reed concluded by urging members of the NRB President’s Council to communicate with their respective Members of Congress and press them on outstanding issues such as health care and taxes.
“They need to hear that,” he said before taking questions.
Members of the NRB President’s Council understand the singular importance of NRB’s engagement in the legislative, legal, and regulatory processes centered in Washington, D.C., recognizing that these efforts are crucial in the battle to keep the doors of electronic media open for the spread of the Gospel.
For more information about the NRB President’s Council, including how to get your invitation to the 2018 Capitol Hill Media Summit, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More observations on the results of Election Day 2016 can be found here.
By NRB Staff
Published: September 28, 2017