The results are in from the Family Research Council straw poll held at the annual Pray Vote
Stand summit in Washington D.C.
It is easy to see why former President Trump won the straw poll. In addition to his deep organization in conservative politics, he delivered one of the better speeches of the campaign to-date.
"This election will decide whether America will be ruled by Marxist, fascist, communist tyrants who want to smash the Judeo-Christian heritage," Trump, 77, said at the summit, "or whether America will be saved by God-fearing freedom-loving patriots like all of the people in this room."
However, the most important part of the former President’s remarks is one many conservatives don’t want to hear: don’t blow it on abortion.
“We can win elections on this issue, but it’s very delicate and explaining it properly is an extremely important thing. You have to be able to speak and explain it properly. A lot of politicians who are pro-life don’t know how to discuss this topic,” Trump told Concerned Women for America, a message he reiterated at the Pray Vote Stand Summit.
Trump said politicians “don’t know how to talk about it” and cautioned that “if they don’t speak about it correctly, they’re not going to win.”
Trump has so far resisted pressure from anti-abortion leaders to embrace a federal abortion ban but said on Friday night that conservatives now have the power to “negotiate” at the state level. He also emphasized his support for exceptions to abortion bans in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.
In his speech, Trump ticked through his conservative record in the White House, including moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and reinstating the Mexico City Policy, which blocks U.S. federal funds from being used for abortions and was revoked by President Joe Biden.
The former president continues to dominate national Republican primary polls and currently holds a double-digit lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who also appeared at the Concerned Women for America event.
DeSantis signed into law a six-week abortion ban, but has not said he would support federal restrictions. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has taken a more moderate approach and has called for “consensus” on the issue. Meanwhile South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former vice president Mike Pence have both called for Republican candidates to embrace a 15-week federal abortion ban, reported POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw.
Gov. DeSantis, who has polled well behind Trump in Republican primary surveys, insisted Friday the race was "very fluid" and argued the primary is "a state-by-state thing."
"So we've focused our efforts on the early states. I mean, if it was a national primary, we'd have a different strategy and we'd be applying our efforts differently," DeSantis said on Fox News.
When host John Roberts noted that Trump is "leading substantially in all of the early states," DeSantis said, "He's not leading by those numbers, I can tell you that, in Iowa."
ABC News reported Trump had a 20-point lead over DeSantis among likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers in an NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll conducted by Iowa pollster J. Ann Selzer in late August. The good news for DeSantis in the poll was that a majority of Republican caucusgoers in Iowa -- 52% -- said their minds weren't made up.
Perhaps the most surprising results were the minuscule numbers posted by buzzworthy candidate entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who despite his adulatory media coverage and social media buzz garnered only 1.7 percent in the straw poll.
Becca Milfeld, writing for the AFP international press agency teased out some interesting quotes from Pray Vote Stand Summit attendees that explained Mr. Trump’s continued strength among Evangelical Christians.
"As a woman I understand that he can be offensive," Joan Horswell, a 76-year-old retired nurse from Texas, told AFP.
But "personally, I like him," she said at the "Pray Vote Stand" summit. Ms. Horswell, thinks "Mike Pence is OK," but adds, "I think at this point in our government, we need a much stronger man."
"Is he a flawed individual? Sure. But most Christians will say, we are all sinners. Jesus is not on the ballot," said William Wan, a 60-year-old Catholic engineer from Winter Garden, Florida who attended the summit.
Despite the Democrats’ politically motivated indictments, Mr. Trump is a rock star among white evangelical Protestants, 84 percent of whom voted for him in 2020.
Rep. Jim Banks pretty well summed up why former President Trump appeared to run away with last Friday’s straw poll when he tweeted, "Donald Trump ran away with the [Family Research Council's Pray Vote Stand] straw poll today. Social conservatives strongly support [President Donald Trump]. Most pro-life President ever and will be again.
Pray Vote Stand summit
2024 Republican field