Rev. Graham, other evangelical leaders, withhold endorsements of Trump 2024 candidacy

Former President Donald Trump has already formally launched his 2024 campaign for the White House, and it has quickly become clear in many respects that this campaign will be substantially different from the ones he ran in 2016 and 2020.

One of those differences is an apparent reluctance from top evangelical Christian leaders, chief among the Rev. Franklin Graham, to issue endorsements or openly support his candidacy at this point in time, the Washington Examiner reported.

That is a stark change from Trump’s first two runs for office, in which his support from a majority of evangelicals was abundantly clear and, perhaps unsurprisingly, prompted the former president to lash out with accusations of “disloyalty” against former supporters who have yet to grant him their endorsement.

“Let’s just let the people decide”

CBS News reported Monday that Rev. Graham was among the growing list of evangelical Christian leaders who have declined thus far to clearly signal their endorsed support of former President Trump’s candidacy for a second term in the White House.

Speaking to a reporter for the news outlet at the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. on Friday, Graham said, “I’m going to stay out of it until after the primaries have finished,” in reference to which Republican candidate for president would receive his support.

The reverend, who had initially signaled his support for a Trump presidency as far back as 2011, didn’t issue an official endorsement in the 2016 primary but did hold rallies in support of Trump in that election as well as in 2020, implied that divine providence had helped Trump win office the first time, and has expressed his belief that Trump will forever be known as “one of the great presidents.”

As for his choice to not endorse any GOP candidate yet, that wasn’t a “big decision — it’s an easy decision,” Graham said. “I’m just not going to get involved in supporting this one over that one. Let’s just let the people decide. And when the dust is settled, I’ll make a decision on that point.”

Furthermore, perhaps in light of the other evangelical leaders who are currently withholding support from Trump, the revered Christian leader seemingly cautioned, “I think [the evangelical vote] is always up for grabs. I don’t think any politician should take it for granted.”

“A sign of disloyalty”

Prior to the revelation that Rev. Graham would not be endorsing the former president ahead of the GOP primary, CBN News reported last week that Trump had lashed out against the other evangelical leaders who had made a similar choice in an interview with reporter David Brody.

“I don’t really care, it’s a sign of disloyalty,” Trump said. “There’s great disloyalty in the world of politics, and that’s a sign of disloyalty because nobody … has ever done more for ‘right to life’ than Donald Trump.”

“I put three Supreme Court Justices who all voted, and they got something they’ve been fighting for… many, many years,” he continued. “Nobody thought they could win it. They won — Roe v. Wade — they won. They finally won.”

Ironically, though, in highlighting the massive pro-life victory he, in fact, helped achieve, Trump nonetheless adopted a talking point of the pro-abortion left and argued that the Republicans who espouse strict pro-life positions without any of the usual exceptions — incest, rape, and life of the mother — bear at least some of the blame for the GOP’s lackluster performance and the overperformance of Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections.

Endorsements and support will likely come in due time

To be sure, while the lack of endorsements and outspoken support from evangelicals is something of a 2024 nightmare for Trump, it seems fairly clear that the withholding of support is only applicable to the upcoming GOP primary.

In other words, should Trump make it through the primary season and win the Republican Party’s nomination, it seems rather certain that he will then receive the influential evangelical support he desires in opposition to whoever the inevitably pro-abortion Democratic nominee for president will be in the general election.

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