Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition held a conference in Washington, D.C. this past Friday and Saturday. It attracted some of the expected Religious Right figures – Ken Blackwell, Gary Bauer, etc. – and featured such goodies as Dinesh D’Souza discoursing on the source of President Obama’s “rage.”
Ralph Reed’s Spiritual Battle Plan for Political Victory
This was also the weekend for a FreedomWorks Tea Party rally in D.C., and Reed didn’t pull a huge crowd – a couple of hundred people. Maybe that’s because his event was sandwiched between Glenn Beck’s pre-Labor Day gathering at the Lincoln Memorial and next weekend’s Values Voter Summit, traditionally the big item on the Religious Right political calendar, which could easily attract ten times as many activists as Reed got.
But Reed is interested in different kinds of numbers. He says he’s all about building a grassroots organization that turns out targeted voters. Reed puffed with pride when he recounted the surprise 2002 victory of Georgia GOP Gov. Sonny Purdue, who was behind in the polls right up until Election Day. The pollsters’ likely voter models couldn’t and didn’t take account, Reed says, of the fervent voter registration and turnout work he was organizing in evangelical churches. And he told participants that if conservatives implement his model across the country this fall, it won’t just be a big victory for conservatives, but a historic, earth-shaking victory including races nobody thinks are even in play.
He said he regretted that liberals out-organized conservatives in 2006 and 2008 and he pledged never to let that happen again in his lifetime. He gave activists detailed marching orders and the ability to pull up both fiscal and faith-based conservatives from a massive voter database he is compiling.
He’s hoping that House Republicans will help the cause when they unveil their reform agenda later this month, and that new candidates will build bridges to voters that haven’t always been comfortable with the conservative movement, including women, African Americans, and Latinos. Reed talked excitedly about Florida’s Marco Rubio, who conservative leaders see as their movement’s Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama rolled into one appealing right-wing package.
Reed places himself and his activists squarely within both the Tea Party and Religious Right movements, saying their two goals are to return America to the “Constitutional limited government” our founders intended and return America to God. Of course, spiritual warfare is all the rage on the Religious Right, and Reed is no exception, telling workshop participants “this is ultimately a spiritual battle” and endorsing Pastor Jim Garlow’s prescription for 40 days of prayer and fasting before the election.