Author Q&A: Ralph Reed

The following is an author Q-and-A with former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed. His novel, Dark Horse, a story about an independent candidate’s run for the White House, is in stores now.

Q: What led you to write a novel?

Really just happenstance. I outlined this book and wrote the first chapter 32 years ago. I was inspired by Eugene McCarthy’s run against Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in 1976. I was thinking ahead of time what would happen if a truly viable candidate ran for president as an Independent who was well-funded, had broad appeal and got on all 50 states’ ballots. But I knew that, at the age of 15, that I didn’t know enough to write it, so I sort of set it aside and never forgot about it. And then, in the fall of 2006, my literary agent came to me and said, “Have you ever thought about writing a political thriller?” …

Q: Does Dark Horse have any parallels to real-life experiences, a la Primary Colors?

Absolutely. I guess I’m either too loyal or too young to write a memoir, and I’m not really a kiss-and-tell guy; I would never feel comfortable betraying confidences, but, you know, everything in Dark Horse is true. It either happened to me or it happened to somebody else … but one of the differences between Primary Colors and Dark Horse is that there’s no character in Dark Horse that is based on a real person. Most of these characters, including their names, with few exceptions, were outlined 32 years ago.

Q: In your book, 21 million evangelical voters bolt the Republican Party to vote for an Independent. Could this happen to Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainManchin, Donnelly back Pompeo This week: Senate barrels toward showdown over Pompeo Romney forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination MORE (R-Ariz.)?

No. I don’t think it will happen for two reasons: first, a palpable, almost primordial fear of [a Sen. Barack] Obama [D-Ill.] presidency among conservatives, beginning with his likely Supreme Court selection, but moving on to [other] issues. He is an extremely liberal nominee for a major party. And I think he and [the Rev.] Jeremiah Wright have done far more to bring conservative people of faith home to the [GOP].

The second reason it won’t happen is because John McCain has begun taking very important steps towards building bridges for that vote. He’s taken a more conservative direction. He has a little more work in this area ... but he’s taken some important steps, and Obama is helping him.

Q: Would you ever consider running for public office or working on a campaign again?

Oh, absolutely. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ve been involved in elections with people, and have run myself unsuccessfully, and [I am] going to continue to be involved, get good people elected into office who share my conservative values and beliefs. But I did enjoy writing Dark Horse. It was a lot of fun, and it enabled me to show a lot of things that I’ve seen in seven presidential campaigns in over 25 years without betraying any confidence.  

Dark Horse: A Political Thriller By Ralph Reed
Howard Books, 2008
448 pages, $19.99