By Ben Kamisar
Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMcConnell: Trump needs to 'catch up fast' on fundraising Rubio: I hope I can trust whoever wins with the nuclear codes O'Malley: Trump is a 'racist' and a 'bigot' MORE on Saturday called for Christians to band together and use their power to protect themselves from the “siege” they face.
Trump told supporters in Sioux Center, Iowa, that he received more pushback for calling to ban Muslim immigration that he would have if he had called to ban Christian immigration to America.
“And if I said that about Christians, I would have less backup than if I said it about Muslims. … If I said that about Christians, if I said ‘banned,’ I would have had less difficulty. And that’s pretty sad.”
Trump, who was introduced Saturday by a pastor, looks to shore up evangelical support ahead of the Iowa caucuses in nine days. Evangelical voters made up the majority of GOP caucus voters in 2012, and Trump has been battling with rival Ted Cruz for the evangelical vote.
He noted his own Protestant background as he lamented the lack of power that American Christians have, referring to the loss of religion in America is "death by a million cuts."
"We don’t exert the power that we should have. I think some of the churches are afraid of their tax status, losing their tax status if they are too political, some of them can't endorse," he said.
"But the fact is, there's nothing the politicians can do to you if you band together, but the Christians don't band together."
Trump pitched himself as Christianity's best chance at representation in the White House, lamenting the decline of stores saying "Merry Christmas."
“If I get elected president, we are going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ once again, remember that," he said.
"And by the way, Christianity will have power without having to form because if I’m there, you are going to have plenty of power, you don’t need anybody else. You are going to have somebody representing you very very well.”
Acutely aware of his rivalry with Cruz, Trump gazed around the auditorium in Sioux Center and pointed out the crowd.
“Every little seat right there, I’m packed. We have thousands of people in another auditorium, it’s amazing," he said.
"Cruz was here a couple of weeks ago, he had 500 people, we have thousands.”
- Updated at 1:11 p.m.