Ralph Reed Pledges $18M to GOP for ‘Hard-Fought‘ Midterms

The chairman of an influential conservative evangelical group predicted the fall midterm elections will be "hard-fought" for Republicans as the organization pledges to spend $18 million to help GOP candidates hold on to their majority in Congress.

Ralph Reed, who heads the Faith and Freedom Coalition, told reporters during the organization's annual "Road to Majority" summit in Washington, D.C., that plans were in the works to counter what could be significant Democratic voter turnout among those who oppose President Donald Trump's presidency, reported Friday.

"We think our people are going to come, but we also think their people are going to come and they are going to come in really big numbers. This is going to be hard-fought," Reed said.

The organization, which invested heavily in the 2016 elections, plans to continue those efforts to support conservative candidates, Reed said, adding the current group of Republican lawmakers had promoted conservative causes beyond those of previous GOP administrations.

"These are the most conservative, pro-family policy victories in a shorter period of time that I've seen in my career — more than we had under [former President George] Bush 43, more than we had with Newt [Gingrich] as [House] Speaker," Reed said.

Eighty percent of evangelicals, which made up 26 percent of the 2016 electorate, cast their vote for Trump, according to exit polls. This despite reports of sexual impropriety by Trump in the "Access Hollywood" tape that was released shortly before the election.

And Trump has followed through on campaign promises, delighting conservatives by installing Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and reversing restrictions on political activities of religious groups.

The organization looks to counter Trump's low favorability, which they see as being a driving force for Democrats in this fall's elections. Though $18 million has been budgeted to spend in wooing voters this fall, Redd suggested that amount could go higher.

Specifically, the efforts will center on digital outreach, door-to-door and telephone campaigning, as well as using texts, emails and regular mail.

While the country's economy has improved under Trump, Reed said evangelicals would still need to turn out this fall because Democrats were "really fired up."

"It is sort of the mirror image of the Tea Party of 2009 and 2010. They are fired up, they are angry, they are chewing on nails and they are coming. All we can do is our job. We can't control what they do," Reed explained.

Not all conservatives are on board with supporting Trump, however. Pete Wehner, who has worked for numerous GOP administrations, has said recent events caused him to "rethink my identification with both" the GOP and the evangelical movement.

"I consider Mr. Trump's Republican Party to be a threat to conservatism, and I have concluded that the term evangelical — despite its rich history of proclaiming the 'good news' of Christ to a broken world — has been so distorted that it is now undermining the Christian witness," Wehner wrote last year in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

Reed countered that while issues of character were "important," he believed voters would focus on Trump's successes as president.

"Every now and again he's going to tweet something that maybe, on second thought, he shouldn’t have tweeted," Reed said. "But, on the other hand, if he wasn't who he was, he wouldn't have packed those arenas, fired up people the way he did. People love him."