Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Donald Trump Rallies Evangelicals (VIDEO)

Well, if he siphons off enough religious voters, then Ted Cruz is going to be finished.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Donald Trump, hoping to slow Ted Cruz's surge, makes inroads with evangelicals":
In the final days before Iowans begin the presidential nominating process, Donald Trump, whose candidacy has both perplexed and enlivened various factions of the Republican Party, is focused on shoring up the support of the state’s evangelical voters who could propel him to victory and bolster his momentum in the upcoming primaries.

Trump announced Tuesday the endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr., an influential evangelical leader and president of Liberty University, who called the billionaire businessman a "successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.”

The endorsement from Falwell comes a week after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tossed her support behind the billionaire’s candidacy. Palin has a strong following of evangelical and tea party supporters.

Each of those endorsements arrives as Trump seeks to slow the surge of his top rival in Iowa, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has strong support from evangelicals.

“It’s all calculated and really shows how he can morph himself so that he’s appealing,” Steffen Schmidt, a professor of political science at Iowa State University, said of Trump’s support from Falwell and Palin. “He does what he needs to. ... He's not a tried and true politician, but ... in many ways, he has become a politician. Has Trump ever talked about evangelicals in his career? I would say not so much.”

Indeed, over the weekend Trump attended church in Iowa and last week he spoke at the invocation at Falwell's Liberty University.

National polls show Trump is succeeding in winning over evangelicals -- who are also influential in South Carolina, another state with an early vote.   An NBC News/Survey Monkey poll released Tuesday showed Trump with 37% support from white evangelicals nationwide, while Cruz had 20%, a 9% drop since last week.

Still, a mix of state and national polls reveals the race for evangelical support appears to be a toss-up...

And watch, via Greta Van Susteren, "Jerry Falwell Jr Endorses Donald Trump - On the Record."