An Open Letter to Donald Trump on Evangelical Voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) and Indiana Governor Mike Pence (L) wave to the crowd before addressing the crowd during a campaign stop at the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield, Indiana, July 12, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) and Indiana Governor Mike Pence (L) wave to the crowd before addressing the crowd during a campaign stop at the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield, Indiana, July 12, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/John Sommers II)

Dear Mr. Trump,

Doubtless you are aware that many in the nation's large Evangelical Christian community are, to varying degrees, ambivalent or uneasy about your candidacy for president. Millions of them are certain they don't want Mrs. Clinton in the oval office, but they are uncertain about whether or not they should vote for you, not vote in the presidential contest at all, or write in a protest candidate.

Credit : (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)

Mr. Trump, there are numerous things you could do and actions you could take that would go a long way toward making many of these American Evangelicals feel far more comfortable trusting you with the office of the presidency.

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Two of the oldest axioms of public policy are "the best predictor of future performance is past behavior" and "personnel is policy."

Consequently, given your relatively recent adoption of some positions (such as your pro-life stance) that are of critical importance to Evangelicals, it would be extremely helpful if you would strongly consider giving Evangelicals a solid and clear indication of what a prospective Trump administration would look like. Your vice presidential nominee must be unequivocally pro-life.

How could you do that? First, you could announce a vice presidential candidate and running mate who is well-known and trusted among Evangelicals and other social conservatives. After all, as former President Ronald Reagan reminded us, "Trust, but verify!"

For instance, if you were to name Indiana Governor and former Congressman Mike Pence as your vice presidential candidate, it would send a very strong, positive signal about a Trump administration's personnel profile. Among other potential running mates, which would similarly boost Evangelicals' confidence in you, would be Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Newt Gingrich, and Tom Cotton.

Second, I would encourage you, as the most "outside the box," unconventional presidential candidate in living memory, to strongly consider announcing your choices for many of the top positions in your administration in the very near future.

This would have the advantage of further assuring Evangelicals and other social conservatives about the policy parameters and priorities of a Trump administration. These people could then campaign with you and for you.

Thus, you would have a solid phalanx of campaign surrogates that could fan out across the country, campaigning on your behalf.

Imagine the electric reaction if you were to, for example, name the following lineup over a period of days and weeks:

Secretary of State: Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton

Attorney General: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Dr. Ben Carson

Secretary of Energy: Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Secretary of Defense: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Secretary of Commerce: Carly Fiorina

Director of OMB: Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Secretary of the Interior: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback

Chief Domestic Affairs Advisor: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

Mr. Trump, imagine the political energy and excitement that would be generated if you were to have a series of press conferences where you would appear with, for example, Dr. Ben Carson endorsing you. You would then announce that if the American people choose to select you as president, you would nominate Dr. Ben Carson as your Secretary of Health and Human Services with the mandate to lead the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare. Then Dr. Carson would campaign on your behalf across the land.

Then, a few days later, consider another press conference announcing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as your nominee for attorney general, with the mandate to thoroughly fumigate the Justice Department, and then investigate the IRS, the Clinton email scandal, and the enormous potential conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton State Department. Then Gov. Christie would campaign as a Trump surrogate across the nation.

A series of such press conferences announcing similarly bracing and reassuring nominations would do a great deal to generate enthusiastic support for your presidential campaign.

Lastly, I can think of nothing that would generate more excitement and reassurance among Evangelicals for your candidacy than for you to hold a press conference where Sen. Ted Cruz announces his endorsement of your candidacy and you, in turn, announce your intention to nominate Sen. Cruz to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the tragic death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Nothing concerns Evangelicals more at the moment than the threats to religious liberty here at home, and nothing would address these concerns more forthrightly and completely than to make it clear you want to have Sen. Cruz on the nation's highest court for the next 30 years.

Finally, Mr. Trump, thank you for being willing to run for president. As former President George W. Bush told a group of us assembled at the governor's mansion the day he was inaugurated for his second term as governor of Texas in 1999, "I've seen the presidency up close and personal, and I know it is a sacrifice, not a reward." Thank you for being willing to make the sacrifices necessary to run for president of the United States.

Praying for America,

Richard Land

Dr. Richard Land is president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and executive editor of The Christian Post.

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