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At the March for Life, Pence reminded white evangelicals why they should stick with Trump

Vice President Pence praised his wife, Karen Pence, while speaking to a crowd at the March for Life in Washington on Jan. 18, 2019. (Video: Reuters)

Few groups have been more faithful to the Trump administration than white evangelicals.

At a Friday march advocating for expanded antiabortion policies, Vice President Pence thanked the community for its support.

It was a reminder that while Trump’s popularity with the American public seems to be declining, the president still enjoys relatively significant support among one of the most influential voting blocs in Republican politics. White evangelical support for the president has hovered around 70 percent for most of his term.

Pence spoke at the March for Life after a rough week for his family. The second lady found herself on the receiving end of criticism for her decision to work at a Christian school that states in its code of ethics that it does not hire LGBT people. Pence, a conservative Christian who has made headlines for his stance on LGBT issues, defended his wife and their Christian faith. At the march, one of the largest annual gatherings of antiabortion advocates in the country, Pence said:

“My wife is many things. She’s a mother. She’s an advocate for military families. She’s traveled across this country. She’s even an art teacher at a Christian school. And I couldn’t be even more proud of our second lady, my wife, Karen Pence.”

In an interview Thursday with Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic cable network, Pence spoke about religious schools having the right to make decisions based on their convictions. He said:

“We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education and, frankly, religious education broadly defined. We celebrate it. The freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution prohibits a religious test for holding a public office and so we’ll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”

Supporters of LGBT rights, meanwhile, have attacked Karen Pence’s decision. JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, one of the country’s largest gay rights groups, told The Fix:

“Why not teach at a school that welcomes everyone, instead of choosing one that won’t serve LGBTQ kids, kids of LGBTQ parents, people of other faiths, kids of single or divorced parents, or others? The Pences never seem to miss an opportunity to show their public service only extends to some.”

But the Pences’ presence at the March for Life is a reminder that, ultimately, the administration’s stances on immigration, foreign policy, the economy or other issues are less important to white evangelicals and other conservative Christians than issues related to abortion.

Pence sought to reiterate that idea when he told the crowd:

“You can be confident you do not stand alone. You are joined by tens of millions across this nation. And know that you have an unwavering ally in this vice president, in our family, and you have a champion in the president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.

“The truth is, Donald Trump is the most pro-life president in American history,” he added.

Pence proceeded to list the Trump administration’s work on preventing U.S. dollars from funding organizations that advocate for abortion rights, appointing conservative judges and backing the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Support for Trump among white evangelicals is nearly 30 points higher than the national average, according to the most recent NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll. That’s thanks in large part to the administration’s antiabortion work. As long as his administration continue to prioritize this, it will keep his white evangelical voters happy — and supportive — in 2020.