With the current presidential race running at full-force, a former candidate met with Robertson School of Government (RSG) students to share his experience about what it all was like. Motivating future Christian leaders to seek the Lord and determine whether they ought to run for an elected office, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, Regent’s founder chancellor and CEO, shared his experience winning five states in the 1988 Republican Primary.
“I campaigned in 34 states, rally after rally,” said Robertson. “I shook many hands, and my campaign manager wanted me to shake 1,500 per day. I did that sort of retail politics. I rode a horse in 100 degrees and a bus in Spirit Lake, Iowa in negative temperatures. It was fun, but it was exhausting.”
Master of Arts in Government student Jordan Mertens chose Regent University because of the leadership experience and credentials of the RSG faculty. He feels led to one day run for public office, and appreciated the wisdom Robertson shared.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while, especially as a Christian, how you’re supposed to handle things because it’s supposed to be different,” said Jordan Mertens ’17 (RSG). “You’re not supposed to look like everyone else. You’re supposed to stand out and be salt and light to the world.
“He said you need to go on with a servant-like attitude and extend that just like Christ did for others,” said Mertens. “So, there’s a lot of examples he took of Christ’s ministry that we know of from scripture, and applied it to how he thinks we should apply that to active campaigning as well.”
Robertson shared the struggle of dealing with a hostile media, and needing to forgive hurtful and false accusations from rivals and the press. He described the grueling experience of rushing across the country to meet voters, but also the rewarding experience of encountering hardworking Americans with an appreciation for American values and a slower pace of life. Robertson said it wasn’t so much his plan to run for president as he believes it was God’s. Although he didn’t win the presidency, he looks back and sees how the Lord used him.
“It was the founding of the Christian Coalition which really, as he pointed out, was the legacy of that campaign,” said Dr. Mary Manjikian, RSG associate professor. “He made an analogy that the Republicans have to think about the evangelicals the same way the Democrats have to think about labor unions. You really can’t get elected without them.”
Robertson’s involvement in the election mobilized the voting efforts of Christians, some of whom previously avoided politics. He encouraged graduates to continue a tradition of taking action in the realm of public policy.
“Obviously Dr. Robertson is one of those individuals who have lived this out,” said Mertens. “It’s not just a rhetorical idea. It’s a practical experience for him, and now he can turn around and share those experiences with other people that he’s trying to raise up into a position that could truly make a difference.”