CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Once disgraced, America's top political organizer of white evangelicals hopes to mobilize millions of fundamentalist Protestants for the Republican presidential ticket, although it contains no Protestant.
Ralph Reed -- who led a nationwide get-out-the-vote organization for TV evangelist Pat Robertson, before Reed was tainted in the Jack Abramoff scandal -- has compiled a database of 17 million born-again whites, whom he will bombard with religio-political appeals before the Nov. 6 election.
Backed by right-wing millionaires, Reed is preparing 25 million "voter guides" to be distributed in 117,000 fundamentalist churches, The New York Times says. He has recruited 5,000 evangelical volunteers to phone, email, text and visit conservative believers to ensure that they go to the polls.
Can Reed manipulate multitudes of born-again whites to support Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, even though they belong to Mormon and Catholic faiths that evangelicals traditionally have questioned?
Boyish-looking Reed formerly headed the Christian Coalition political movement of Republican presidential candidate Robertson, a millionaire TV preacher. Then Reed became a religious political organizer -- but he was dragged down by the Abramoff mess.
Crooked lobbyist Abramoff was paid millions by a Louisiana gambling casino. When a rival casino was proposed across the state line in Texas, Abramoff gave $4 million to Reed to rouse Texas fundamentalist pastors against it -- a secret ploy to prevent competition for the Louisiana gambling operators.
Disclosure of this shabby manipulation disgraced Reed, who was defeated in his campaign for lieutenant governor of Georgia. Abramoff went to prison for many evils.
Now Reed has returned to Republican politics through his conservative outfit, the Faith and Freedom Coalition. He calls his fundamentalist followers "freedom patriots." They adhere to the familiar God-guns-and-gays agenda, supporting censorship of sexy materials and opposing birth control, homosexual equality, etc.
The political power of white evangelicals is declining as America turns increasingly secular -- following the path that engulfed Europe after World War II. The number of Americans who rarely attend church has soared since 1990, currently reaching an estimated 45 million adults. These Americans overwhelmingly vote Democratic.Can Reed mobilize enough white fundamentalists to tip the 2012 presidential election to Romney and Ryan? God forbid.