Former President Donald Trump received endorsements for his potential 2024 presidential bid from House Republicans from Pennsylvania and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson at the annual conference of religious conservatives. Robinson declared his support for Trump with a rousing speech, stating that America needs a leader who is willing to fight and wave the American flag boldly. Meanwhile, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts related to his retention of classified records and alleged efforts to stop the government from getting them back.
Republican Endorsements Despite Legal Troubles
Despite facing federal criminal charges, Trump’s grip on a major swath of the Republican Party remains firm. Ex-Attorney General William Barr has called the indictment against Trump “damning,” but many other Republicans, including most of Trump’s primary opponents, have been reluctant to wield the frontrunner’s legal troubles against him. The latest endorsements further indicate that Trump’s hold on the Republican Party remains strong. Most notably, the crowd at the religious conservative conference loudly booed former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when he criticized Trump’s leadership, demonstrating the party’s loyalty to Trump.
Trump’s Endorsements and Polling Numbers
Trump’s endorsements from Pennsylvania’s House Republican delegation bring his total number of congressional endorsements to 69, including 10 senators. In comparison, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s nearest Republican primary competitor, has amassed only five congressional endorsements so far. Despite his legal troubles, Trump’s polling numbers have remained strong. A CNN poll conducted after Trump was arraigned on the federal charges found his support slightly dipping, but he remained the clear Republican polling leader. Trump is set to speak at the Faith and Freedom conference on Saturday evening, following several speeches from his Republican primary rivals.
The religious conservative conference prompted some of the Republican presidential hopefuls to discuss their stances on abortion more openly than they have done elsewhere on the campaign trail. The issue has split some Republicans since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, marking a victory for anti-abortion activists that later galvanized Democratic voter turnout. DeSantis, who has seldom mentioned Florida’s six-week abortion ban since signing it into law earlier this year, stated at the conference that it “was the right thing to do.” Meanwhile, Pence, who is running on a more traditionally conservative platform, urged “every Republican candidate for president” to “support a ban on abortion before 15 weeks as a minimum nationwide standard.”