WASHINGTON – Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave a carefully scripted yet occasionally ad lib pitch to evangelical conservatives today that focused largely on hitting at Hillary Clinton.
Trump, who usually eschews the teleprompter, used one for the second time since his comments about the Mexican heritage of the federal judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuit.
He pledged to promote religious freedom if elected president, and made a reference to race but not specifically to Judge Gonzalo Curiel or the Trump University case.
“We want to uphold the sanctity and dignity of life — marriage and family as the building block of happiness and success, so important. By the way, I know many, many very successful people — the happiest people are the people who have that great religious feel and that incredible marriage — children. It’s more important than the money, folks, believe me. I know plenty with lots of money and they’re not happy people,” Trump said at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference.
“Religious freedom, the right of people of faith to freely practice their faith, so important. Freedom of any kind means no one should be judged by their race or their color and the color of their skin should not be judged that way and right now, we have a very divided nation. We’re going to bring our nation together. If I win, we’re going to bring our nation together,” he added.
Nearly half of registered GOP voters identify as evangelical, and Trump got the support of about 40 percent of white evangelicals during the primaries, according to an NBC News analysis.
Trump said President Obama, who endorsed Clinton via video on Thursday, has become the first sitting president to endorse a presidential candidate under “criminal investigation.”
“Hillary Clinton has jeopardized, totally jeopardized national security by putting her e-mails on a private server, all to hide her corrupt dealings. This is the reason she did it, folks. It’s to hide her corrupt dealings. She’s now under criminal investigation — that was announced yesterday by the White House,” he said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference.
“I mean, it’s a criminal investigation. First time ever, by the way, a president of the United States endorsed somebody under criminal investigation — interesting,” he added.
Trump told the audience that Clinton’s campaign donors “own her.” He said both Bill and Hillary Clinton have made $153 million giving speeches to special interest groups since 2001.
“That’s a lot of money — that’s a lot of money. These donors own Hillary Clinton. They own her and Bernie Sanders was right about that,” he said.
Trump referred to a recent ABC News report that said Clinton helped a donor land a seat on a nuclear intelligence advisory board.
“She even appointed to the national security board someone with no national security experience, instead, he was a donor — a recent donor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and also gave as much as $250,000 to the foundation,” he said.
“They all looked and said where does this guy come from? He made a contribution of $250,000. All of a sudden, he’s on this very important and vital board. This position dealt with tactical nuclear weapons and had top-secret clearance and he knew nothing about it,” he added.
Protesters holding up anti-Trump signs interrupted his speech and were taken out by security.
“These are professional agitators, folks. They come in and they are sent by the other party,” he said.
Citing the Iran nuclear deal, Trump vowed to “restore dignity” to the office of secretary of State.
“If you look at the Iran deal, truly one of the worst deals I have ever seen negotiated,” he said.
Trump argued Clinton would “appoint radical judges” as president who would “legislate from the bench, overriding Congress.”
“I tell you, the will of the people will mean nothing, nothing. Her judges will abolish the Second Amendment and destroy the rule of law,” he said.
“She will keep Obamacare in place, which puts medical decisions in the hands of government — not good. Obamacare, we will repeal and replace. She’ll restrict religious freedom with government mandates. She’ll push for federal funding of abortion on demand up until the moment of birth, which is where she is, as you know,” he added.
Trump also said Clinton would “undermine the wages of working people with uncontrolled immigration, creating poverty and income insecurity.” He argued that “open borders” have hurt the inner cities in America.
“She’ll put bureaucrats, not parents, in charge of our lives, and our children’s education — can’t have it. She’ll be trapping kids in failing schools. She’ll plunge our inner cities into even deeper poverty if that’s possible,” he said.
“She wants to raise your taxes tremendously — regulation, bureaucracy, government control, and open borders have economically destroyed our inner cities. Her policies will be a crushing blow to all poor people in this country,” he added.
Trump continued, “Her education policies, her economic policies, her immigration policies, and her trade policies will plunge our poor African-American and Hispanic communities into turmoil and even worse, despair. Believe me.”
Trump said the Democratic Party has run the school boards, the police departments, the city councils and the mayor’s offices in most of the inner cities.
“They have horribly failed in almost every single community,” he said.