Robert Jeffress, a pastor at the First Baptist Dallas church in Texas and staunch evangelical ally of Donald Trump, said on Wednesday that he will wait for the Republican Party nomination to endorse the former president.
“Donald Trump was a great president, and if he becomes the GOP nominee in 2024 I will happily support him,” Jeffress told Newsweek.
When further asked about supporting Trump ahead of the Republican nomination, Jeffress told Newsweek that “the Republican Party is headed toward a civil war that I have no desire or need to be part of. My priority is being pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas and preaching God’s word to millions of people each week on our television and radio broadcasts.”
The remarks by Jeffress come shortly after Trump announced on Tuesday night that he plans to run for president again in 2024, after he was defeated by current President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
During a speech at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, Trump announced that he planned to run again and said, “America’s comeback starts right now.”
“Our country is in a horrible state. We’re in grave trouble,” Trump said. “I will fight like no one fought before.”
Trump said that the U.S. “could not take” another four years of the Biden administration. “I don’t say that in laughter, I say that in tears,” he added.
In the 2020 election, Trump received widespread support from evangelical leaders and community members. In a tweet on January 12, 2021, Jeffress said that he spoke with Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.
“When [a] reporter asked if I regretted my support I said ‘Absolutely not! Most pro-life and religious liberty President and VP in history!’” Jeffress said in the tweet.
In 2021, the Pew Research Center published a poll showing Trump’s widespread support from the evangelical community. The poll found that 59 percent of respondents who “frequently attend religious services” voted for Trump, while 40 percent sided with Biden.
“Among those who attend services a few times a year or less, the pattern was almost exactly reversed: 58% picked Biden, while 40% voted for Trump,” the poll said.
The poll also found that 85 percent of “white evangelical Protestants” voted for Trump in the 2020 election. Among white Catholic voters, the poll found 63 percent voting for Trump in the election compared to 36 percent who sided with Biden.
Prior to Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, a poll conducted by Morning Consult/Politico found that 47 percent of Republican voters said they would vote for Trump in the 2024 election. Thirty-three percent of Republican voters sided with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has yet to officially say if he will run for president.
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