home
RSS
Why Ralph Reed matters
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) (L) exchanges contact information with conservative leader Ralph Reed during the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.
June 3rd, 2011
07:09 AM ET

Why Ralph Reed matters

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - On Friday and Saturday, just about every Republican hoping for a shot at the GOP nomination for president will metaphorically kiss the ring of Ralph Reed and schmooze his conference crowd.

The political powerhouse is throwing the event of the moment in Washington, DC - the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference.

Among those pondering or having acknowledged presidential aspirations: Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum are all scheduled to take the stage and address the 1,000 conference attendees and 250 credentialed members of the media. Newt Gingrich, who spoke last year, is sending in a video.

They will be joined by Donald Trump, Glenn Beck and Marco Rubio on the speakers schedule. It is a veritable who's who of Republican presidential contenders and conservative political power players.

They are all coming because Reed is known as an evangelical whisperer.

Despite a Washington beltway money scandal that could have derailed his career, Reed is once again riding high - and potential candidates know it. "(They) understand that we provide a unique forum to reach out to social conservatives and newly energized Tea Party Activists," Gary Marx the Faith and Freedom Coalition's new executive director said on the eve of the conference.

It's a group that's been called "Teavangelicals" and shows that Reed is trying to widen his reach. "It's a broader appeal. It's faith-based activists and Tea Party supporters. It's really the Christian Coalition on steroids, as Ralph calls it," Marx said.

Reed was tapped by Pat Robertson to head the Christian Coalition when he was age 29. He was the right man for the job and quickly became the smiling face of the grass roots Christian right, and was known for getting voters to the polls.

"Ralph invented the game and how to play the game. He's got a PhD in political science," said Dr Richard Land the head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Church, the nation's largest Protestant denomination with 16 million members.

"He's one of them. He's an evangelical. He understands the evangelical and the conservative Catholic positions. He understand what rings their chimes and what doesn't."

"Any time Ralph Reed is involved in something it's going to make a difference. If I were running for office the very first thing i would do is hire Ralph as a consultant," Land said. "Ralph knows how to do this."

Land points to the group flexing their political muscle in the Virginia gubernatorial race in November 2009. "When (Reed) started the Faith and Freedom Coalition, they contacted 700,000 evangelical households in Virginia and McDonnell (the Republican candidate) ended up winning. That's households not individuals, so you're talking more than one vote a household in many cases."

Land will also be speaking at the conference. He sees the importance of speaking to Reed's core constituency. "For me the take away is I get a chance to inform activists and people who are going to be making a difference, envelope stuffing and ringing doorbells. That's an important thing."

"The people I spoke to were extremely activist oriented and had the ability to open their checkbooks," Erick Erickson a CNN contributor and editor of Redstate.com said of last year's conference where he was a featured speaker "It's no CPAC. It is not the Values Voters Summit. But it's still influential."

"I think Ralph Reed remains so influential because of habit," Erickson said. "He's always been the guy politicians go to to reach out to grass roots. He still has a lot of street cred with evangelicals."

And Erickson said the potential candidates are hoping to capture some of the same credibility.

"In my mind, I hate to be so cynical, I think the one word is 'Iowa.' The other three words are 'also South Carolina,' " he said.

"If you don't have evangelical street cred, you're not going to win Iowa."

In 2005, Reed could have lost all his street creed. He tried to move from the smoke-filled back rooms to the front of the podium when he ran for lieutenant governor in Georgia, where he had been running the state GOP party after leaving the Christian Coalition. At the time, he was connected through a trail of e-mails to Jack Abramoff.

It was revealed Reed had taken millions of dollars from Indian casinos to help lobby against a state lottery in Alabama. The move was viewed as hypocritical for Reed, who was openly anti-gambling. Abramoff ended up going to prison for his transgressions, but Reed faced no criminal charges.

"Most grass roots voters haven't paid attention to that," Erickson said. "The bulk of it is they don't pay attention and they haven't paid attention. The Jack Abramoff story was a big story in a lot of newspapers, but the Ralph Reed connection wasn't."

"Most evangelicals who know about it, view Ralph as a victim and that he was victimized by Abramoff like so many others," Land said adding, "Conservatives don't have any problem with people making money."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • DC • Politics • United States

soundoff (493 Responses)
  1. Greg Gilbert

    I would never believe anything CNN or Time says about Republicans. Way to bias.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • glenn robert

      What are you doing on CNN? ou should be on Fox for the right wing diatribe.y

      June 3, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  2. EdNv

    oops 'merely.'

    June 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  3. EdNv

    Reed is mearly a SALESman - He ran the best telemarketing firm in the nation, and now he sells cr@p to religious wannabe's and makes them feel good while they cut him a check and give the GOP their vote.

    Welcome to the new GOP brought to you by the Shopping Channel.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  4. MIGUEL GUERRA.

    THE MAJORITY OFAMERICANS KNOWS THAT THE REPUBLICANS DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THIS COUNTRY. THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT THE RICH PEOPLE. THEY SAY THAT THEY BELIEVES IN VALUES. I HOPE THEY WILL HAVE A VISA TO ENTER INTO HEAVEN BECAUSE IF IT IS DECLINE THEY WILL BE GOING BO HELL. WHAT SO EVER YOU DO TO THE LEAST OF MY BROTHERS YOU ARE DOING UNTO ME. THIS IS FOR THE REPUBLICANS.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  5. shamgar50

    One reason I’ll NEVER vote Republican.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  6. James

    I hope he figures out once and for all if Romney is indeed Christian even though Christ is the brother of Lucifer according to LDS.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  7. Thinker

    It's not Reid's "ring" the Republicans will be kissing!

    June 3, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  8. The Doo-dah Man

    @concernedwhiteman

    Believe it or not (no pun intended) yours is a point I am attempting to make.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  9. Not fooled

    What happened to the Real Republican party? You guys are being taken over by Teaevangelicals. The House of Representatives leaders are cowards.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  10. James Black

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGSvqMBj-ig

    June 3, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  11. indydave

    Anyone who wants to know why Ralph Reed is dangers to America, look up the word Dominionist. Any bit of power or influence this evil person gets is too much.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • dude

      Cha-ching, Baby! Nailed it!

      June 3, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Judith

      Very good point. Reed also has a very slimy history working in a very crooked manner with the likes of Tom Delay and Jack Abramhoff. He's a nasty little weasel and I wouldn't consider voting for any politician he was supporting.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  12. borisjimbo

    Ralph Reed can play both sides of the same game and make money off both of them. That's why the GOP loves him.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  13. Concerned Citizen

    Just another EVANGELICAL WACKO WITHWAY TOO MUCH POWER... Playing off the ignorance of the masses. Got news for you : YOUR INVISIBLE SKY GOD HAS FORSAKEN YOU... LONG LIVE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  14. mightyfudge

    When will this country's Christians stand up and demand that their Christian leaders behave like actual Christians? How many lying, cheating, degraded hypocrites representing them is too many?

    June 3, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Thinker

      Bravo. That is exactly the problem with the so-called "religious right." They are neither religious nor right!

      June 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  15. concernedwhiteman

    God bless America, i fought in Iraq(pointless i kno)and served my country so everyone on this blog can be free 2 say whatever they want....i agree with separation of church and state, im a christian but i dont shove my beliefs down anyone's throat....what you choose 2 believe(or not) is up 2 you as a person but using religion as a means 2 get votes is a slap in the face 2 true christians....i knew quite a few athestists when i was in the military and they r great ppl 2 kno, what makes this country great is our diversity and freedom 2 express our beliefs....i still prayed 4 their safety while we were on the battlefield....whether you like it or not this is a country of believers AND non-believers, athestists try 2 force their non-beliefs on ppl as well. if you really want 2 affect change, go out and vote 2 keep these hatemongers frm getting in office, otherwise you r wasting your words online bcuz your not doing anything about the problems facing this country, just talking about it.....be a people of action

    June 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Not fooled

      Now you are a true Christian-and your service does matter. Thank you. Anyone who calls himself an evangelacalist and hates, does not care for the poor, is a racist, and calls people names is a liar. They are masquerading as a holy person and they know it.

      June 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • glenn robert

      Been there done that! Korea 1953, How many have died in the name of God, be it Christian ,Jewish, Muslim or other? One side says there is a God the other side says no. Neither side can prove their point!

      June 3, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  16. Lou

    Christian Mullahs...they have far more in common with their Islamic counerparts than they realize.

    June 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  17. gabriel

    When Jesus said at the time of his return there will be no true faith again I was taking aback but when you have ex-con like this and some other religious jobbers like him,patterson,franklin and others being worshipped then I wonder if the bible is still relevant.The so-called evangelicals like Huckabee lying with blood on their lips make me pray that the God of Elijah should arise and exercise judgement

    June 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  18. tonyl

    Why Ralph Reed matters to GOP? Because GOP is nothing but a right wing Christian fanatics party and only appeals to a fringe and Ralph is a" grand poobah" the fanatic leader" with crazed followers who will vote for even the biggest nut job candidate for GOP that the grand poobah supports.

    June 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  19. heraldofwhoa

    I lean GOP, but it is because of dupes like RR I will never be fully in the fold. If you kowtow to him, you'll get no vote from me.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  20. allens

    this has nothing to do with other christians, it is about ralph being a sleazeball. i would guess he is not a believer. if he was, he would worry about his afterlife in hell.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.