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A Presidential Bid Analyzed

In the book The Plan, published in 1989, Pat Robertson describes his campaign for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. A summary of that description and the lessons learned follows.

New Orleans is hot and steamy in the summertime, and the summer of 1988 was no exception. But those of us attending the presidential nominating convention of the Republican Party in August of 1988 weren't concerned about the weather.

We had come to nominate the next president of the United States, to position our candidates to win in the fall, to alternately appeal to or strong-arm our way through armies of reporters and to draft a platform which represented strong conservative patriotic family values.

To many of the assembled delegates and alternates…this was a time to revel in the closest brush with real political power they might ever know, while taking time to taste the delights of what many feel is the best party town in America.


A Bittersweet Conclusion

For me, convention week in New Orleans in August was to be bittersweet. I had run as a candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency. I had run hard and, in the process, had raised the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands of Americans who shared my goal of "restoring the greatness of America through moral strength."

They had worked sacrificially, tirelessly, enthusiastically. They had given millions of dollars. They had proved in state after state that God-fearing, dedicated people, even though novices, when working for a cause, can get into politics and win.

They had shocked the political world in the early maneuvering by scoring a resounding victory in Michigan. Then in the crucial preliminary straw balloting in Iowa -- which had broken Jimmy Carter out of the pack in 1975 -- they beat all the candidates and gave me resounding victory over a sitting vice president and the minority leader of the United States Senate. Excluding Michigan, which frankly, was stolen from them, they had won four states, scored second in about eight more, and had brought me a third place finish out of a field of six with 1.9 million votes.

Supporters Devastated

In the quest for the highest secular prize our nation has to offer a third place finish is respectable. But my supporters were devastated. It was as it they mourned for the dead. Because they felt as I did, that God had called me to win, not run third.

So in New Orleans they were asking and I was asking one simple question-did God call me to run for president or not? And if He did call me to run, why did I lose? And why, with the loss, was there such incredible personal abuse and such enormous financial sacrifice?

Did God have a plan for me? Does He have a plan for you? Can you and I learn God's plan for our lives, so that we will have lives filled with purpose and meaning, joy and satisfaction?

Was the Decision to Run Wrong?

In The Plan, Pat describes how he resisted the idea of running for president initially, convinced he could represent his constituency as a grass roots leader. Then during an intense period of prayer the thought pushed into his consciousness: "You will not want to do this, but you should do it." He prayed repeatedly that he did not want to be misled about such a momentous decision. Finally convinced that he should step out in faith, Pat launched a campaign.

When that dream died, he asked the same questions we all ask when we think God has led us into a dead end.

Quoting directly from The Plan:

"I've been asked the question a hundred times: 'Did you miss God?' I asked over and over, 'Did I miss Your leading, Father?… Did I hear You?… Why didn't I win?'"

This led Pat to the broader questions: Is it possible for you to know God's will and guidance in the large and small matters of life?

Yes, God has a plan for our lives. Yes, we can know that plan and live in it. We can take heart in the historic fact that God is concerned with the eternal and with the temporal. In the final analysis, they are one.

Why Did God Want Pat to Run for President?

Quoting directly from The Plan:

"Could it be that the reason for my candidacy has been fulfilled in the activation of tens of thousands of evangelical Christians into government? This campaign taught them that they were citizens with as much right to express their beliefs as any of the strident activists who have been so vocal in support of their own radical agenda at every level of our government. For the first time in recent history, patriotic, pro-family Christians learned the simple techniques of effective party-organizing and successful campaigning."

Their presence as an active force in American politics may result ultimately in at least one of America's major political parties taking on a profoundly Christian outlook in its platforms and party structure.

The Ultimate Outcome

A presidential campaign is brutal. The president of the United States is the chief executive of a vast bureaucracy and a budget in excess of $1 trillion. He sets policies that mean billions of dollars to businessmen, bankers, investors, labor unions, and foreign governments. He is commander in chief of the armed forces and his finger rests on the nuclear button.

Therefore, the press of this nation will ruthlessly drill any newcomer who gets near all that power. Some perceived me as a threat and set out to do me in. The technique was simple. Merely distort every statement. Leave out key details. Belittle the size of crowds and popular support. It got so bad that one of my supporters cried out, "Lord, when will you vindicate your man?" But God's vindication does not necessarily come during the short space of an election cycle.

After it was over, I asked myself a simple question: "If God called Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah, why did He fail?

Did Jesus Fail?

Pat goes on to say that Jesus failed by human standards but was part of God's perfect plan. Was He hurt? Of course he was. Will He be vindicated? Gloriously so.God had a plan for Jesus Christ. You might ask, does God have a plan for you and a plan for me? Absolutely…a plan every bit as perfect in its timing as God's plan was for Jesus Christ. Will God's plan or you and me always bring immediate worldly wealth and success? No, but God's plan will always bring peace and joy and fulfillment. Our duty is to find the perfect plan for our lives and to follow it with the ability He gives us. It's His responsibility to bring about the results.

I know that something wonderful happened as a result of my run for the presidency. I know that God not only provided signs and guideposts for the race that were unmistakable. His hand of blessing after my return to CBN has been so strong that it can only be interpreted to say, "Well done, my son. You have been faithful, now receive My blessing."

Winning by God's Standards

The week before the Super Tuesday primary I flew into the Bristol, Tennessee, Tri-Cities airport for a rally. There were about one thousand people in that early-morning crowd-shouting, clapping, waving banners. After a brief speech, I walked across to shake hands with the people.

One member of that big crowd lives in my memory -- a little towheaded, freckle-faced boy about 10 years old. He looked up at me with eyes full of trust, and as I shook his hand, said with all the earnestness he could muster, "Please win!"

To him I must reply, "Son I don't know your name, but I want you to know this. I followed God's plan for me, so in His eyes I did win. And you, too, can always be a winner, if you just put your hand in God's hand and walk on down the road with Him."

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
—Philippians 4:13

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