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2024 GOP Presidential Candidates Fight for the Evangelical Vote: 'This Is a Judeo-Christian Nation'

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Evangelical voters are expected to play a key role in choosing the 2024 Republican presidential candidate. But what's driving the conversation this time around? 

As expected, Republican evangelicals will stand for issues like fighting for the sanctity of life, religious freedom, supporting Israel and conservative judicial appointments. But so far, in this campaign cycle, parental rights and the radical push on gender ideology are taking up most of the space. 

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley and others are sounding the alarm. "All of this wokeism is trying to change the core of what the family is," Haley tells CBN News. "The family has always been one that prays at home, goes to church, teaches morals, grows their children, and sends them out to do God's work. That's always been the case until now." 

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is expected to run, recently echoed that same concern on The 700 Club. 

"If we teach our kids garbage, if we do not remind them that this is a Judeo-Christian nation and is the most exceptional nation in the history of civilization, if we can't teach them the basics of reading and writing, and reasoning, if we get those things wrong, no secretary of state can fix that problem. The next generation will grow up thinking, gosh, we were taught America is racist. We were taught America is founded on an illogical idea and there is an oppressor class. You can't get those things back," Pompeo said. 

For decades, evangelicals have focused on what kids are learning in the classroom. From homeschooling to school vouchers, the issue remains important. Now, the subject encompasses areas many parents never thought would be considered in the school curriculum. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who's also expected to enter the race, has been at the forefront. 

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"You do not take a 6-year-old boy and tell him that he may actually be a 6-year old girl," DeSantis said recently. "That is wrong and that is illegal in the state of Florida because of our efforts." 

Former President Trump has spoken on the same theme about protecting kids. "I will revoke every Biden policy promoting the chemical castration and sexual mutilation of our youth and ask Congress to send me a bill prohibiting child sexual mutilation in all 50 states," Trump recently said at the conservative CPAC event.  

While Trump still enjoys popularity with evangelicals, winning them over again in droves is not a slam dunk. As he now battles a legal indictment, it remains to be seen whether his support with evangelicals will drop or possibly even grow stronger. 

Trump and evangelicals have always had a relationship based on a mutual feeling of being outcasts in society, so this indictment could actually help him even more. 

As it stands now, a new Monmouth Poll shows 34 percent of evangelicals support Trump as the nominee. Ron DeSantis is close at 32 percent. Scoring in the single digits are people like Mike Pence, Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo. 

One concern for Trump is a potential head-to-head match-up with DeSantis, who has a slightly higher favorability rating – 82 to 80 percent among evangelicals. He also leads Trump by 7 points, 51-44 as well. 

Ralph Reed, CEO of the Faith and Freedom Coalition says no matter what happens, Trump has changed the evangelical primary dynamic. "Donald Trump, through his presidency, through his achievements, and his accomplishments – for life, for Israel, for marriage, for family, for religious freedom –  has raised the bar of expectations among all conservative and faith-based voters," Reed tells CBN News. "Every candidate better be ready to lay out what they're going to do, not just what they've done." 

While Trump will be expected to say he's delivered on his promises of the past, Reed says that doesn't mean there won't be a vibrant race ahead. "Evangelical voters, like all Republican voters, will want to survey the field, kick the tires, check out other candidates. I think they're going to feel they have a civic responsibility to give others a chance to make their case...In the end, every election, not just 2024, but every election, whether you're Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, or Barack Obama is about the future. It's not about the past."

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That is where former Vice President Mike Pence comes in. As he mulls whether to run, he believes evangelicals and voters, are looking for something different now. "I sense people long for the kind of leadership that could unite the American people around our highest ideals, including civility, and respect," Pence tells CBN News. "Our politics are very divided right now, but I'm not sure the American people are as divided as our politics." 

However, it will likely be a divided primary field with Trump on one side and the others calling the party to move on from the former president. The 2024 question is whether enough evangelical voters will break from Trump and choose a different candidate they believe can still bring the results that Trump did as president.  

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