| 18.08,18. 05:03 PM |
Trump using Brunson to rally evangelical votes: report
U.S. President Donald Trump has been using the dispute with Turkey about a detained pastor to garner votes ahead of congressional elections in November.
In an analysis piece the Financial Times said the move to press Turkey to release Andrew Brunson was done to appease evangelical Christian voters who are a large core of Trump’s support base.
On the first day Trump threatened Turkey with sanctions for the treatment of Brunson, Vice President Mike Pence gave a prayer at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in which he said "to believers across America, I say a pray for pastor Brunson."
While Evangelists in the United States consider Trump's efforts to release Brunson as support for religious freedom, the article argued Trump was trying to use this issue to secure success during the Nov. 7 midterm elections.
"The Brunson case is a rallying call for evangelicals within the Republican base because you have a Christian pastor being held in a Muslim-majority country," Amanda Sloat of Brookings Institution told the newspaper. "It seems like this is something that Pence has supported from the beginning."
The article published Thursday discussed how many of Trump's political decisions have been widely supported by his evangelical base.
Gary Bauer, chief domestic policy adviser for former President Ronald Reagan, said the evangelical community welcomed the appointments of Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.
In the past few months, Democratic voters have been showing up at the polls in large numbers to choose candidates for the midterms. To eliminate the possibility of Democrats taking control of Congress, Trump wants to bring out a larger number of evangelical voters by securing Brunson's release, the Financial Times said.
Relations between Ankara and Washington have soured in recent weeks following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on Turkish officials over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest in Turkey on terrorism charges.
President Donald Trump last week ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports.
On Wednesday, in retaliation, Turkey increased tariffs on several U.S.-origin products, including alcohol and tobacco products and cars.