In yet another possible sign of former President Donald Trump’s fading star power, one of his biggest evangelical supporters in 2016 is now refusing to endorse his 2024 run at the White House, CBS News reports.
Rev. Franklin Graham, who is one of the most prominent evangelical leaders in the U.S. and who is the son of legendary televangelist Billy Graham, says he won’t be endorsing anyone in the 2024 Republican primary race.
“I’m going to stay out of it until after the primaries have finished,” Graham told CBS News.
“I’m just not going to get involved in supporting this one over that one. Let’s just let the people decide. And when the dust is settled, I’ll make a decision on that point,” he added.
From CBS News:
Graham, who left the Republican Party in 2015 and has been an independent since then, does not generally endorse during the primaries, but his decision not to support Trump’s primary bid for 2024 may nonetheless come as a surprise because he was such an outspoken defender of him during his presidency and predicted in 2020 that Trump would go down in history as “one of the great presidents.”
Also withholding his endorsement is Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who was also a vocal supporter of Trump’s in the run up to 2016. Trump slammed Jeffress for refusing to endorse him, saying, “There’s great disloyalty in the world of politics and that’s a sign of disloyalty. Because nobody has ever done more for [the] right to life.”
“My lack of offering an endorsement had nothing to do with a diminishing enthusiasm of President Trump,” Jeffress told CBS News. “I have been his most vocal and visible evangelical supporter since 2015. I just felt like it was a little early to be doing that. And I think the best decision is to keep my powder dry for right now.”
As CBS News points out, Jeffress did not endorse Trump in the 2016 primary, but did introduce him at a campaign rally in Iowa before the caucuses. “I want you to know I would not be here this morning if I were not absolutely convinced that Donald Trump would make a great president of the United States,” Jeffress said at the time.
But many evangelical leaders seem to be interpreting the GOP’s failure to flip the Senate and its disappointingly slim House majority as a sign evangelical voters shouldn’t automatically align themselves with the former president.
And they believe other options, like DeSantis, Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and others, deserve consideration from the Republican-heavy evangelical voting base.
Read the full report over at CBS News.