WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Ron DeSantis will give a keynote at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Policy Conference in the nation’s capital.
Invited speakers include former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Ted Cruz.
WILL PENCE PARTICIPATE?
The annual gathering of conservatives was once home turf to Pence, who would attend the conference each year to speak to like-minded evangelicals. But last year, the former VP chose not to attend due to a scheduling conflict.
“Mike Pence had a chance to be great, he had a chance to be frankly historic,” Trump told conference attendees in 2022. “But Mike did not have the courage to act.”
Amid attacks from the former president, some feel Pence is a Trump-era castoff who has lost appeal with conservative Christians.
“I was such a big fan of his but that part of the Republican Party is the educational elites – the old horses are on their way out,” Mary Obersteadt, past president of Nashville Republican Women, told Politico last year.
DESANTIS’ FOCUS ON POLICY
Meanwhile, DeSantis’ continued focus on policy is earning him endorsements from key religious leaders and appears to be attracting more evangelicals as he opens up about his faith journey.
The conference which “equips attendees with the knowledge and connections they need to drive engagement and voter turnout” could be a key to success for DeSantis if he can remain focused on key issues and avoid negative smear tactics.
If Pence loses his bedrock constituency – evangelicals – it’s unclear how he could build up a national profile to compete with DeSantis.
Friday’s gathering, according to the conference website, will “accelerate conservatives further down the road to majority ahead of the 2024 presidential election” while empowering conservative activists to fight for their values at the polls.