More than 100 Christian leaders from the right and the left working under the umbrella group Circle of Protection recently asked all of the presidential candidates to make a three-minute video answering this question: “What would you do as president to offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world?” Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina each responded with videos specifically produced for this project that to varying degrees answer the question. Jeb Bush replied by sending the group a stock campaign ad.
The non-Bush videos are mostly mediocre in production value and content. The Republican candidates couch most of their rhetoric in religious terms, suggesting that they would encourage families and churches take care of their own, with no help from the government. Cruz, in an awkward video, talks directly to the camera to declare the War on Poverty an abject failure. He promises to “reward” Americans who give money to Christian ministries. Fiorina barely manages to eke out a whole minute talking about the subject, but she works in lots of references to God. Carson suggests that big US agricultural companies working in Cameroon hold the key to helping the hungry. Sanders’ video is low-budget but at least presents specific proposals, including funding infrastructure improvements to put people to work. Huckabee’s video shows his childhood home in Hope, Arkansas. He vows to protect Medicare and Social Security.
Jeb Bush didn’t bother to cut a video for the Circle of Protection, which includes the National Association of Evangelicals. Instead, he sent in the “Making a Difference” video he released last month to “introduce himself to the nation” before officially announcing his presidential campaign. The spot has high production values, music, and lots of other people talking: the mother of a developmentally disabled child; a formerly battered woman; a kid who got a private school voucher. It’s easier to watch than Cruz’s. But it’s just a campaign ad.
Chris Ford, media relations manager for Bread for the World, one of the founders of the Circle of Protection, says that the group is not commenting on the individual videos and is “letting the voters decide” what to think. More videos, which will be circulated to churches across the country, are expected in the next week or so from Hillary Clinton, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Martin O’Malley and Rand Paul. Ford says that the group has reached out to Donald Trump, but he hasn’t responded to its requests.
You can watch the Bush video here: