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Former presidential candidate tells what drove his campaign

Texas pastor Ryan Binkley answers questions about Trump, policy, and more

Ryan Binkley Associated Press/Photo by Reba Saldanha

Former presidential candidate tells what drove his campaign

Pastor and businessman Ryan Binkley launched his campaign for the White House in April 2023. On his campaign website, he described himself as “proudly pro-life,” saying, “I believe that every life matters.” He said he would strengthen the nation’s financial footing after watching it slide through a spending deficit for decades. He also promised to secure the southern border, reform healthcare, and bridge what he’s called a “cultural divide” in the United States.

But across four Republican presidential primary contests in four different states, Binkley netted only a little over 2,100 votes, according to WORLD’s 2024 Election Center.

Earlier this week—just days after the South Carolina presidential primary and hours into the voting for Michigan’s primary—Binkley suspended his campaign and promised his “unwavering support for President Trump.”

I talked with Binkley that day about Trump’s policy positions, why he preferred him to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and his thoughts on recent congressional negotiations over border security. Our conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

You are a pastor and a businessman. What led to the decision to announce a presidential run? It has been something that I’ve been thinking about for about six or seven years, and I have continuously seen our country go into a decline financially and culturally. I’m an economist, I’m a CEO of an investment bank, and I can see the deficit spending that we’ve been doing for really 30 or 40 years. And we’ve hit a tipping point now, and I really feel called to speak to that. Secondly, I feel called to speak to the cultural divide that we have in our country. The division that’s between both of the parties is so great that unless we really start to unite as a country, I think that the opportunities for us to come together are going to prohibit us from really accomplishing anything significant. I felt led to speak to those things, and God put it on my heart in so many different ways. I just felt led to launch a campaign for that.

You have said you’re very pro-life as a person and that you believe in the value of all life. You suspended your campaign and formally endorsed Trump, who has a less clear position on pro-life issues. What do you think that his policies will be for protecting unborn babies if he wins a second term? I’ve never spoken with him personally about his particular position. I don’t know that I have any comment outside of what he has spoken of publicly. I do believe as a country, we’re navigating a different season now that Roe v. Wade was overturned. It is in the hands of the states now, and every state’s trying to figure that out. I also recognize that when Roe v. Wade was overturned, that nobody’s heart was overturned. Either you are pro-life from the beginning, and you stayed that way, or you were pro-choice, or you stayed that way. And I think it’s going to be a while before there’s a national consensus on this issue. There’s a lot of states that have a different electorate. That’s vastly different from one state to the next. But that said, I really want to continue to offer solutions that help foster a culture of life by supporting women in a distressful pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy. Making sure we’re supporting crisis pregnancy centers where if women want to be able to have a sonogram, they can do so for free, as well as [supporting] early adoption movements and changing foster care system.

In your campaign, you addressed bridging the cultural divide in the United States. But with your endorsement of Trump, many look at Trump as a divisive candidate. And he has been divisive within evangelical circles, as well. What do you have to say to voters who may be opposed to Donald Trump? You asked two questions. One is how do I communicate it’s time to unify our country when we’re in a very divisive culture, even with our political leaders that admittedly are fairly divisive? As we continue to move forward, we have to keep leading and finding solutions and common-ground solutions to issues we all share. Whether you’re Republican, Democrat, or independent. I’ll give you an example. Inflation is impacting the bottom half of America. It doesn’t matter what party you’re in. If you are in the lower-half income scale of America, you don’t own a home, if you don’t have stock or portfolio or any sort of inflationary asset in an inflation environment like we’re in and have been for 20-plus years, you are truly struggling. The wealth gap is getting bigger. I believe we should come together on key issues that we all face, and inflation is one of them. Spiraling cost of healthcare is another one, and both parties are doing nothing about it. I would encourage President Trump to focus on these areas. Get some wins together. The border can be another one; there are some solutions we can have on the border. Education’s another one. I would keep encouraging all leaders—President Trump, President Biden, any leader—to keep focusing on things that all Americans share.

What would your pitch for former President Donald Trump be to Republican voters who might be opposed to him? It’s really the goal of both parties, if you think about it, to see the other parties fail, rather than see America succeed. I mean, Democrats never support a Republican agenda. And Republicans never support a Democrat agenda. Trump amplifies, I think, that distinction a little bit louder than others. This is where I will keep speaking to and encouraging all leaders—President Trump included—let’s start rising above the division. True leadership is going to require us to eventually end the chaos and come up higher, lead people at a greater level. Very similar way to Ronald Reagan did with Tip O’Neill. They argued, they fought, but eventually they worked together. Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich did the same thing. It’s been 30 years since we’ve had that, and I think it’s imperative. Our country’s ready for it. And I think that, hopefully, our leaders will respond.

Why did you endorse former President Trump over Nikki Haley? I have probably done over 250 town hall meetings, one-on-ones, and meet and greets. Overwhelmingly, people liked the ideas that I’m sharing about fiscal responsibility because I have a plan to balance the budget and I have a plan to reform healthcare, to really change education. At the same time, so many Republicans have been so concerned about these 90-91 [criminal] charges against President Trump. And overwhelmingly, they feel that this is election interference at its face value. It’s like our party cannot move forward until we know we actually have a country that’s not going to put somebody in jail just because they don’t like him. I feel like most Republicans across America do feel that way. I can understand that. When you look at the New York case that just happened, there’s absolutely no party that was harmed, and he gets charged $350 million. There’s never been a case like that in the history of our country. I’ve been in business for 30-odd years. I’ve never seen anything like that. I look at that and the Republican Party steadfastly [standing] behind President Trump, and I stand with him. I like President Trump’s foreign policy statements much better than Nikki Haley’s. Nikki Haley has never really been really clear on how and when to try and end the war in Ukraine and Russia. And so for those reasons, I support President Trump, and I think his policies are a little bit stronger.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

This keeps me from having to slog through digital miles of other news sites. —Nick

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