VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) – Reaction to the death of the Rev. Pat Robertson Thursday at 93 underscores the complicated life he led on social issues and his lasting impact on politics.

Robertson was more than a televangelist with a worldwide reach, radiating from the campus of Regent University that he founded in 1977. 11 years later he ran for president, and although he didn’t win, he remained in the race until the end, and his impact affects the way Republican presidential hopefuls campaign to this day.

Former WAVY anchor/reporter Joel Rubin remembers the presidential campaign of 1988.

“I felt like I had one of the big stories in the country, reporting on a guy who was basically from our hometown,” Rubin said.

Robertson grew Regent University into a powerhouse in evangelical education, and his 700 Club became a pipeline to political supporters. But he dove into controversy headfirst, speaking out against gays, Islam, and people who were pro-choice, and then blaming 9/11 and hurricanes on God’s anger.

“Sometimes he would look like a fool with some of the things he would say, but there was a large audience out there that was obviously contributing to what he was doing, listening to what he was saying,” Rubin said.

Although Robertson was a frequent combatant in the culture wars, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer says he should be remembered for his contributions. Dyer and Robertson were close friends, with Dyer often seeking his advice.

“Everybody’s controversial at some point in time,” Dyer said. “At least he spoke the truth, at least you always knew where he stood. I’ll tell you what, Pat deserves to be judged by the good deeds and the organizations that he built.”

Those organizations that he either founded or assisted in establishing included Operation Blessing, American Center for Law and Justice, the Christian Coalition and the platform that helped launch him into the political and evangelical consciousness, Christian Broadcasting Network.

Rubin remembers how Robertson harnessed the power of evangelicals early in the ’88 race, doing better in Iowa than the man who would go on to become president, George H.W. Bush.

“I think certainly from 1988 on, the voters that Pat Robertson brought into the party continue to be within the party,” Rubin said. “And they can’t win elections without them.”