Hundreds of Evangelical pastors and their wives will descend on Las Vegas Thursday to learn how to motivate their congregations to get out and vote, preferably for social conservatives.
David Lane, an evangelical political activist and event sponsor, is eager to get preachers to tackle government policies from the pulpit and energize the estimated 30 to 40 million evangelical Christians who are not registered to vote.
“Somebody’s principles are going to reign supreme, it’s either our principles or somebody else’s principles,” said Mr. Lane. “By us staying home, we’re electing people who oppose our values. Evangelical believers and pro-life Catholic Christians, our constituency, has to engage if we’re going to save America.”
There are about 65 to 80 million evangelical Christians in America, half of those are not registered to vote, and only about 25 percent of the ones who are registered do, according to Mr. Lane.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who announced his presidential bid at the Christian-founded Liberty University last month, is depending on these votes. He’s also looking to defy some establishment Republicans and those in the media who say he’s on a fools errand.
“Today, roughly half of born-again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home,” said Mr. Cruz, a Texas Republican, in the speech announcing his candidacy at Liberty. “Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.”
Mr. Cruz detailed to the National Journal this month his plan to take the White House, which consists of two parts. The first is motivating Christians who stayed at home in the 2012 election to vote. The second is to be so true to his evangelical, constitutional values that he pulls in people who have never voted before or sways others to chose him regardless of political party.
“If you’re looking for a voting pond that’s not been fished, this is it, but it’s an ocean,” said Rick Tyler, Mr. Cruz’s campaign spokesman, of the evangelical vote. “If you can get this constitute group, which meets every Sunday in the same place — even if you moved them a little bit, say 10 percent, that’s 2.5 million new voters — which is a flood in the electorate.”
But Philip Bump, a political blogger at the Washington Post, has mocked Mr. Cruz’s evangelical strategy.
“Sen. Ted Cruz is a demonstrably smart man, having graduated from both Princeton and Harvard. It is easy to see, however, that his degrees were not in mathematics or statistics,” Mr. Bump wrote in an April column, arguing getting someone who has no voting history to vote is an uphill climb, and by Mr. Cruz not moving to the center, he won’t attract the independent voters he’s planning on.
Republicans have also been skeptical of the strategy.
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