Trump to conservatives: ‘We are under siege’
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump, speaking Thursday at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, said he would never let the evangelical community down, saying that “we are under siege” but that “we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever.”
The speech to a fawning audience, which came as fired FBI Director James Comey testified about Trump before the Senate, provided the President with positive feedback on what otherwise was a politically trying day.
“You didn’t let me down and I will never, ever let you down, you know that,” Trump said to applause.
“We will always support our evangelical community and defend your right and the right of all Americans to follow and to live by the teachings of their faith,” he said. “And as you know, we are under siege. You understand that. But we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever, you watch.”
The withering criticism facing Trump around Washington was nowhere to be found during his speech, where the President received sustained applause every time he trumpeted one of his achievements. Like he did during the campaign, Trump left the podium multiple times to bathe in the applause he was receiving.
Not once did Trump mention Comey’s testimony, where the former FBI director suggested Trump was a liar and left the door open to an obstruction of justice investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“In my first 100 days and I don’t think anybody has ever done more or certainly not much more,” Trump said during a speech that primarily served as a Trump victory lap of his first five months in office. The President touted action on abortion policy, his move to allow preachers to talk politics from the pulpit and getting Neil Gorsuch named to the Supreme Court.
One of the biggest applause lines of the day came when Trump touted his decision to leave the Paris climate agreement, the sweeping international effort that aims to curb carbon emissions and stymie rising global temperatures.
“To protect those jobs and the sovereignty and freedom of the United States, I followed through on my promise to withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said, leaving the podium to accept the applause. “Thank you. You understand it. You understand how bad it was for our country.”
The event, where Trump was introduced by Faith & Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed, served as a mood boost for the president.
“We have taken a very strong position,” he said of his decision to allow pastors to weigh in on politics. “You picked a winner.”
Trump, seemingly aware that his legislative agenda is stalled in Congress as Washington’s focus remains on Comey and Russia, also urged the conservative supporters to keep up their work and try to win more seats in the House and Senate.
“We have to build those numbers up because we are just not going to get votes” from Democrats, Trump said, blaming the opposing party with harming the country.
“If we had a plan that gave you the greatest health care ever in history, you wouldn’t get one Democrat vote because they are obstructionists,” Trump said. “They are bad right now for the country. They have gone so far left that I don’t know if they can ever come back.”