'Stop talking about 2024': Evangelicals holding off endorsing Trump as they audition challengers
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) attends the National Prayer Breakfast at a hotel in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 8, 2018. (Photo by Mandel Ngan for AFP)

Reporting from the Faith & Freedom conference taking place in Nashville over the weekend, Politico's Natalie Allison and Meredith McGraw noted a stunning lack of enthusiasm among evangelical leaders for a third Donald Trump presidential run.

While Trump was greeted enthusiastically by attendees when he threw out red meat rhetoric to them in his keynote speech, Politico is reporting that potential challengers also eyeing the 20204 GOP presidential nomination also were received warmly.

This should cause Trump, who has relied upon evangelical support in two elections, no small amount of concern.

Chief among the wavering is the host and founder of the event, Ralph Reed, who said he wants to see how things play out before making a determination on who should be the Republican Party standard-bearer in 2024.

According to Politico, "Reed, the founder of the conservative Christian organization, played a key role in convincing evangelicals to put aside their skepticism of Trump and back him in the 2016 general election," before adding, "He urged them to support Trump’s reelection in 2020. But the prospect of a third Trump run is complicating matters, and Reed isn’t yet committing to endorsing the former president, should he seek the nomination again and face a field of other Republicans in a primary."

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In an interview with Politico, the longtime evangelical leader ducked a chance to throw his support behind the former president while attention was focused on his annual event.

“We’ve never really tried to be the churchgoing version of the party bosses in a smoke-filled room trying to figure out who the nominee ought to be,” Reed said. “We figure the best thing to do is to provide a platform for those candidates and assist them, informally, by letting them know the best way they can connect with and make their case to those voters and pastors. After that, we let the market decide.”

According to Politico, "Here at the Road to Majority conference, the crowd was most eager to hear from the ex-president. But they were also open to thinking about alternatives, like [Ron] DeSantis — although multiple people interviewed for this story mispronounced his name as 'DeSantos.'"

Sue Trombino, the founder of the Christian group Women Impacting the Nation, also mentioned De Santis while stating now is not the time to fall in line behind the former president.

“I tell people all the time, and I say, ‘Stop it. Stop talking about 2024.’ You have four and a half months so save this Republic. Why are you talking about 2024? Get 2022 right,” she explained. “If we win in 2022, then we can figure it out in 2024. And figure out if it should be Trump or DeSantis.”

You can read more here.