After Iran announced it had fired missiles aimed at U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Charlie Kirk, a White House surrogate who promotes Trump’s message on college campuses, tweeted: “This president proclaimed clearly and boldly that GREAT nations do not fight endless wars. I trust @realDonaldTrump will do the right thing as Commander-In-Chief and not entangle the United States in yet another commitment in the Region of Sand and Death.”
Seth Weathers, an Atlanta-area Republican strategist who briefly served as the Trump campaign’s Georgia state director in 2015, said he would support continued airstrikes if Iran retaliates over Soleimani.
But he drew the line at a ground war. “That would piss a lot of people off,” he said.
One group in the Republican base that is especially wary of Iran is evangelical Christians. Many evangelicals view Iran’s Islamist-led government as a threat in religious terms; and many link the need to neutralise Tehran with the need to protect Israel. Iran supports various armed groups that oppose Israel, from Hamas in the Palestinian territories to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Earlier this year, Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, said in response to a question from the Christian Broadcasting Network that it is “possible” that Trump is a modern-day Queen Esther, a biblical figure who persuaded a Persian king not to annihilate the Jews.
Among self-identified evangelical voters, 56 percent approve of the strike that killed Soleimani, 10 points higher than the overall electorate, according to the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.
In support of the strike, Atlanta-based evangelical activist Alveda King, a Trump supporter, cited Daniel 7:4, a biblical prophecy that begins, “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings.” She said the eagle represents the United States and its strength, which the president was justifiably exercising.
“I would prefer peace to war,” she said. But “we cannot be wishy-washy.”
King, a niece of Martin Luther King Jr., said the potential for escalation does not concern her. “I have confidence in God, so I know that as the president of the United States he’s going to have God’s direction. So, I’m going to continue to trust God. So, no, I’m not worried.”
But, according to the poll, voters are concerned about the prospect of war with Iran. Roughly one-in-three voters, 32 percent, say the airstrike that killed Soleimani will make the U.S. safer, while 50 percent say it will make the U.S. less safe. In a subsequent question, 69 percent of voters polled said the airstrike makes war with Iran more likely.
While Trump’s base is solidly behind him, the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows voters more broadly aren’t rallying to the president’s side.
His overall approval rating is 41 percent, virtually unchanged from the last poll, just before the holidays. A bare majority of voters, 51 percent, say they would approve of the Senate removing him from office in the upcoming impeachment trial, while 43 percent oppose Trump’s removal.
The POLITICO/Morning Consult online poll was conducted Jan. 4-5, surveying 1,995 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.