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Iowa Evangelicals Don't See Trump as Their Savior

While Kim Reynolds was signing anti-abortion bills and Tucker Carlson was annoying presidential candidates on stage at the Family Leadership Summit, Frank Luntz was off on the sidelines running a focus group with 18 Iowa evangelicals. To get into the group, someone had to consider himself or herself conservative, go to church once a week, and be born again or evangelical. Evangelicals play a massive role in the Iowa Republican caucuses, which may be related to the fact that the caucuses almost always pick the wrong Republican candidate. Nevertheless, Luntz wanted to get a feeling for where their heads were.

Patti (age 65) summed up Donald Trump by saying: "It feels like at some point he swallowed a fifth grader that's always trying to get out." When asked who was the most honest, Bryan (61) said it was Tim Scott. He said: "He could sell me anything and I'd buy it. I believe him." Several said that Christians are under attack. Tammy (60) said she posted something about gay pride month on Facebook and she was attacked by people who don't even know her! David (61) said: "They've created this narrative that if you don't approve of my lifestyle, you hate me and that's just not the truth. Anybody who's had a child knows that they can love somebody without approving of what they've done."

A number of the evangelicals said it was time to move on from Trump. Thomas (26) said: "Trump looks [to] see, where's the wind blowing, and then drives in that direction, whether it's the right direction or not." Heather (age not given) doesn't think Trump is a good role model for her three sons. Karen (age not given) is worried about candidates working with the Democrats. She said: "I don't want to hear them talking about working across the aisle because to me, that's code for 'I'm weak and I'm going to do whatever the Democrats force me to do. I'm not going to stand up and stand my ground.'" A few were like David (61), who said: "President Trump, I voted for you twice. I moved to unanimous support in my local caucus in 2020. But you cannot win this next election."

All in all, they seem to be searching for the right candidate. Trump is a known quantity, but not everyone likes him (anymore). So far nobody else has caught fire with them, but that could yet happen. The group as a whole seems to be up for grabs. (V)

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