Earlier this week, Donald Trump announced, “I have something very, very big concerning the president of the United States.” “Will it change the election?” he was asked. “Possibly,” Trump replied. “It’s very big—bigger than anyone would know.” A European betting house has since been accepting wagers on various possibilities. The leading candidate was the claim that Mr. Obama is not an American. Less likely options included Mr. Trump endorsing the president and Mr. Obama appearing on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Now we know what the “Trump card” is: he will give $5 million to the charity of Mr. Obama’s choice if the president will release his college and passport records by October 31 at 5 P.M. The billionaire tweeted shortly after making his announcement that “the response has been fantastic—actually overwhelming.” Others have been less impressed, stating that his “Obama bombshell fizzles.” According to one reporter, “Donald Trump’s October Surprise” is that “I Don’t Have One.”
But others have tried. In October 1968, President Johnson announced a halt to bombing in North Vietnam, news which caused his party’s candidate to surge in the polls before losing to Republican Richard Nixon. In October 1972, National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger announced, “We believe peace is at hand.” The news helped Nixon gain reelection against his anti-war opponent, George McGovern.
In the last days of the 2000 campaign, a reporter broke the story that George W. Bush had been arrested in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol; his campaign called the announcement a “sucker punch” but won the election anyway. In October 2004, Osama bin Laden released a video addressing the American people; some thought it may have helped Mr. Bush gain reelection by focusing attention on terrorism.
Now we’re witnessing one of the closest presidential races in history. What “October surprise” could change its outcome?
I’m not sure what would sway America’s voters, but I know what God seeks in our next president and in every other leader as well. In what Scripture calls “the last words of David,” the king stated: “The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: ‘When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth'” (2 Samuel 23:1, 3-4). God is looking for men and women of personal “righteousness,” people who lead “in the fear of God.” Such leaders bring morning after night and sunshine after rain.
In these dark and stormy days, America needs our next president to be such a man. And our nation needs America’s Christians to exhibit such character as well. Would you join me this morning in praying for both?