President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE rallied evangelical supporters in Miami on Friday, positioning himself as a champion of religious communities while ripping his Democratic opponents as “radical” leftists pursuing an “extreme, anti-religious and socialist” agenda.
“Evangelicals, Christians of every denomination and believers of every faith, have never had a greater champion in the White House — not even close — than you have right now,” Trump said at a campaign event launching his “Evangelicals for Trump” coalition Friday evening.
“Together, we’re not only are we defending our Constitutional rights, we’re also defending religion itself, which is under siege,” Trump said. “Every Democrat candidate running for president is trying to punish religious believers and silence our churches and our pastors.”
The event at King Jesus Ministry in Florida came weeks after Christianity Today, a leading evangelical magazine, called for Trump’s impeachment and removal from office, sparking a fierce response from the president and his allies.
A number of prominent evangelicals publicly voiced their support for Trump after the Christianity Today piece, which was penned by now outgoing editor-in-chief Mark Galli, while the president's support among the key voter bloc has shown no signs of wavering.
Trump enjoys strong support among white evangelicals, winning more than 80 percent of voters belonging to the group during the 2016 presidential election.
In his address Friday, Trump hearkened back to his support among evangelicals during 2016, predicting he would “blow those numbers away in 2020.” He urged supporters to “get out and vote” in November, a comment that ushered in chants of “four more years” from the crowd.
“I do really believe we have God on our side,” Trump said of his first presidential campaign. “Or there would have been no way we could have won.”
Trump’s approval rating among evangelicals has remained strong throughout his tenure, despite some of his actions and rhetoric that have drawn scrutiny among religious groups.
Before he began his remarks, a group of prominent evangelicals prayed for the president on stage. Trump — who was welcomed with chants of “USA! USA!” — described the evangelicals coalition as “one of the most important grassroots movements in American history.”
Trump briefly recognized members of the U.S. military at the top of his remarks, mentioning the October raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and boasting about the drone strike in Baghdad late Thursday that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force.
“He was planning a very major attack and we got him,” Trump told the crowd, without providing further details. Trump’s decision to authorize the strike has prompted critics to warn of destabilizing consequences.
Elements of Trump’s remarks mimicked those he regularly delivers at his campaign rallies. He touted the low jobless claims under his administration, attacked Democratic presidential candidates, jabbed at the media, touted efforts to build a wall at the southern border with Mexico and claimed House Democrats were “crazy” for impeaching him over a “perfect” phone call with Ukraine’s president.
“This is a terrible hoax perpetrated in our country,” Trump said of impeachment, which is likely to be put to a trial in the Senate sometime later this month.
The president made a point to highlight what he described as his administration’s “pro-faith” agenda. Trump touted his administration’s efforts to protect religious liberty, preserve faith-based adoption, stand up to “the pro-abortion lobby” as well as his success confirming well over 100 federal judges.
Trump also claimed he “stopped” the Johnson amendment, a provision in the U.S. tax code prohibiting political activities by nonprofit organizations like churches.
The law still exists, but Trump signed an executive order in 2017 aimed at relaxing restrictions on religious groups engaging in political activities.
“It’s no longer effective,” Trump said of the Johnson amendment, saying he would make it “permanent.”
The Evangelicals for Trump coalition gathering is one of several targeted events the president’s 2020 campaign has planned in recent weeks in order to drum up support among key blocs of the electorate.
The Trump campaign also held a “Black Voices for Trump” event in Atlanta in November to increase support among African American voters.