By John Corrales – – – –
Ben Carson, whose widespread support among evangelical voters has shown some signs of slipping, will hold a news conference in South Carolina that his campaign has called an “Evangelical Rollout.”
A campaign spokeswoman said the event would be “for a number of pastors to announce their endorsement for the campaign,” though she did not specify what that number would be. The event mirrors Donald J. Trump’s meeting with a group of black pastors and community leaders that was initially presented as an endorsement announcement before the campaign redefined it as a private meeting.
A month ago, a national Quinnipiac University poll showed Mr. Carson leading the Republican field among evangelical voters with 32 percent. Mr. Trump, in second place, was at 18 percent.
But Mr. Carson’s lead has fallen away amid increased scrutiny as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas surged in the polls. A national Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday shows evangelicals favoring Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, who tied at 24 percent of respondents, while 19 percent backed Mr. Carson. And a Quinnipiac Iowa state poll last week showed Mr. Cruz leading the Republican field among evangelicals with 27 percent to Mr. Carson’s 23 percent.
Last Wednesday, a day after the Iowa poll was released, the Carson campaign announced that Johnnie Moore, an author and contributor for Fox News, would join the team as a “special faith adviser.”
Mr. Moore, Mr. Carson’s team said in a statement, would “be responsible for advising the campaign on its outreach to Christian voters across the country.”
In 2012, Mr. Moore was a campus pastor for Liberty University, the Christian college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., when Mr. Moore invited Mr. Carson to speak at the college. In November, Mr. Carson spoke again at Liberty in front of a packed arena.