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Chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition Ralph Reed emphasizes that the organization’s annual “Road to the Majority” conference is “focused like a laser beam on November.”
That’s when Republicans aim to win back majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate in this year’s midterm elections
The Faith and Freedom Coalition – a public advocacy group founded over a decade ago by Reed, a well-known and veteran political consultant who in the 1990s steered the Christian Coalition – advocates for social conservative positions and its annual conference attracts thousands of Republican and conservative leaders, strategists, activists and evangelical voters. This year’s confab, which is being held in Nashville, Tennessee, kicks off on Thursday.
Reed said the gathering was “focused on 2022” and noted that the GOP nominees in two crucial Senate races – Georgia’s Herschel Walker and Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina – will be speaking at the event, as will first-term Rep. Maria Salazar of Florida, who’s considered a Republican Party rising star.
While winning back congressional majorities in November is the main mission, the burgeoning race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination is hovering over the conference. And some top potential contenders in the next White House race have high-profile speaking roles at the gathering.
First and foremost is former President Donald Trump – who nearly a year and a half removed from the White House remains the most popular and influential politician in the GOP as he repeatedly flirts with another presidential run.
Also speaking are former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas who served as CIA director and America’s top diplomat under Trump; and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, another rising star in the GOP.
Two other well-known Republican lawmakers who may have national ambitions are also addressing the conference – Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas.
“We know that when we roll out of bed on the day after the 2022 election, the ’24 campaign will begin that day,” Reed pointed out in an interview with Fox News.
Asked about the former president, Reed said Trump “raised the bar of expectations on the part of social conservatives and evangelicals. The threshold of performance and delivery on promises that we will expect from candidates running in ’24 is higher than it was prior to Trump.”
Pointing to Trump’s imprint on the Supreme Court and the federal bench, his muscular support for Israel, his push to defund Planned Parenthood, and becoming the first sitting president to attend the annual “March for Life” rally, Reed emphasized that “this is a significant transformation for the Republican Party and for the pro-family, pro-life movement.”
Looking at the potential GOP 2024 field – which also includes former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and many more who are allied with the faith and family movement – Reed said, “I’m thrilled at the people who may run… certainly in terms of the bench available, I think it’s hard not to argue that it’s the strongest potential field in the modern history of the Republican Party.”
“It’s an embarrassment of riches and we’re honored and humbled and thrilled to have so many of them at this conference,” he stressed.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition touts that their gathering is “the nation’s premiere pro-faith, pro-family event,” and they explain that “this annual conference is designed to empower conservative activists to fight for their values at the polls and in the public arena and to equip attendees with the knowledge and connections they need to drive engagement and voter turnout.”
Reed pointed out that social conservative and evangelical voters currently make up roughly half of the Republican primary vote and that they have outsized influence in Iowa and South Carolina, two of the first three states to hold contests in the GOP presidential nominating calendar.
“You’re not going to win this nomination in 2024 without getting your fair share of these voters,” Reed insisted. “You don’t have to win a majority, but you probably have to win a plurality. I don’t think there’s any way to win the nomination without getting your fair share. These are very important voters.”
But putting the brakes on the abundance of 2024 talk during his Fox News interview, Reed emphasized that “we’re not viewing this conference as any kind of cattle call for 2024.”