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Doug Wead - Evangelicals Turn To Paul

Better now than never.

In the wake of Senator Rick Santorum’s departure from the presidential race there are signs that some evangelical leaders are refusing to jump on board the Mitt Romney bandwagon and are turning to Congressman Ron Paul instead. The Texas congressman spoke to several thousand people last night at the Will Rogers Auditorium in downtown Fort Worth but met quietly afterward with evangelical leaders.

Why Ron Paul? And why now, when the race is being declared “done” by the main stream media?

“Because you don’t give away your support without getting something in return,” says a former congressman who has been at the heart of the Christian right movement since its beginning. The longer that Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich stay in the race, the more likely that Romney will be forced to take a evangelical conservative as his vice presidential nominee.

Why not turn to Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Catholic who is a former Southern Baptist, with views that resonate with evangelicals?

“If we had to do it over again, we should have gone with Gingrich,” one of Santorum’s supporters told me today. But if we switch to Gingrich now we risk another drop out.” The former Speaker reportedly has debts of $ 4.2 million and has asked the Romney campaign for help in retiring them. Romney reportedly declined.

Meanwhile, the Ron Paul campaign, with cash on hand, has begun airing television ads in Texas and launches another moneybomb this weekend.

“I have one question for you,” one of the ministers reportedly said in the private meeting last night with Dr. Ron Paul, “Are you going to drop out? Or will you stay in all the way to Tampa?”

“I’m in,” the Texan replied.

“That’s all I need to know,” the minister said.

The evangelical community began reaching out to Dr. Paul almost immediately after Senator Rick Santorum dropped out of the presidential race. Yesterday, Pastor Steven Andrew of USA Christian Ministries announced his support of the congressman, calling for a day of prayer and fasting. Andrew released a statement saying that, “After Santorum, Ron Paul is the most God-fearing Presidential candidate [and] the Republican party should endorse him.” Andrew said that “If Republicans don’t give a Christian candidate, Christians should look elsewhere – even to a third party.”

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Nice to have the support

But hard to see how it puts pressure on Romney to select an evangelical running mate. Still, if it sways a few more ex-Santorum supporters to Paul it will be worth delegates since most of the upcoming states are proportional to some extent, especially Texas.