As I’ve mentioned a few times, today it seems obvious that an evangelical leader like Jerry Falwell, Jr. would endorse and support President Trump. After all, almost every major conservative evangelical leader strongly supports President Trump. But it wasn’t like that back in late 2015. Trump’s irreligion and libertinism were obvious obstacles to becoming the candidate of conservative evangelicals. Perhaps the iron alliance we’ve now known for four years was always in the cards. But Jerry Falwell’s endorsement – in January 2016 – was a key bridge to getting there.
With that in mind I thought I’d go back and look at press coverage at the time, without the gloss and overlay of subsequent events. Remember that at this moment Trump was locked in a pitched battle for evangelical voters in Iowa with Ted Cruz, then a leading candidate of the evangelical right. Falwell had actually allowed Cruz to launch his campaign at Liberty University back in March 2015. Cruz would win the battle in Iowa – he came in first and Trump second. But of course he would lose the war.
Let me share a few snippets.