With the Iowa caucuses set for Monday, Donald Trump picked up an endorsement today from Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, the Harvard of the Christian Right.
The Washington Post reports:
Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of the late televangelist, endorsed Donald Trump on Tuesday, giving Republican front-runner the blessing of one of the evangelical community’s biggest names just days before the Iowa caucuses.
In a statement announcing his endorsement, Falwell called Trump “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.”
Falwell, and Liberty (where Trump recently spoke) are powerful surrogates among evangelical voters, so perhaps this will give Trump a boost in Iowa, where the the Christian Right plays an outsized role in the GOP caucuses.
Trump inspired laughs when he said “Two Corinthians” at his speech at Liberty but evangelicals like him anyways. Pollster Robert Jones talked to WaPo’s Greg Sargent about this phenomenon back in December:
“Trump is painting a bigger picture — a kind of appeal to nostalgia and to a mythical golden age that he wants to bring back in America that is very appealing to evangelicals,” Jones says. He notes that one recent PRRI poll found that 72 percent of white evangelical Protestants think the American culture and way of life has “mostly changed for the worse” since the 1950s.
“Evangelicals strongly believe American culture has changed for the worse,” Jones says. “If you listen to evangelical rhetoric, there are so many throwback words — retake, restore, revive, repent.”
Meanwhile, Jones notes that another recent PRRI poll found that 55 percent of white evangelical Protestants thinks that “the growing number of newcomers from other countries” is a threat to “traditional American culture and values.”
This has to be an unbearable bummer for Mike Huckabee, not to mention Rick Santorum. All that pandering, only to be bumped by the heathen Trump.
After leading the polls despite almost no major endorsements, Trump is now building a tally, albeit a unique one — with Falwell following recent endorsements by Sarah Palin and one of the dudes from Duck Dynasty (another Duck dude is backing Ted Cruz).