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Trump accuses Democrats of 'anti-Catholic bigotry' at annual Alfred E. Smith dinner

President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE promoted his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Conservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation MORE and accused Democrats of “anti-Catholic bigotry” during remarks Thursday at a virtual annual dinner hosted by the New York Archdiocese to raise money for Catholic charities.

Trump, who delivered prerecorded remarks to the 75th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner just after Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE made his own, opened by discussing the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus but moved to more explicitly political remarks as he raised the issue of the Supreme Court.

“To protect your God-given rights, I was recently honored to nominate one of our most brilliant legal minds, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to the United States Supreme Court, and that was an honor indeed,” Trump said. 

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“We will not stand for any attacks against Judge Barrett’s faith. Anti-Catholic bigotry has absolutely no place in the United States of America,” Trump continued. “It predominates in the Democrat Party and we must do something immediately about it, like a Republican win. And let’s make it a really big one.”

Barrett, a devout Catholic who opposes abortion, faced scrutiny over the role of her faith in judging during her first confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 2017. Republicans accused Democrats of anti-Catholic bias at the time.

Conservatives have criticized recent media coverage scrutinizing Barrett’s membership to a Christian group called the People of Praise and warned Democrats that Barrett’s faith should be off limits.

Trump’s remarks immediately followed those of Biden, who delivered a briefer speech recognizing the pain felt by Americans due to the coronavirus and discussing how his Catholic faith has guided him through difficult times. He mourned those lost but sought to offer a message of hope.

“The American people don’t give up. There is no quit in America. Mark my words – one day we will look back not at how far we fell but how fiercely we fought back as a country,” Biden said.

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Trump also talked about the coronavirus, blaming China for the pandemic and praising the work of first responders and the Catholic community in helping assist those impacted by it.

“When the virus came in from China, we saw New Yorkers respond with the same grit and tenacity, courage, and selflessness that have always defined this city that we love so much,” Trump said. 

He touted his administration’s work to produce a possible coronavirus vaccine, claiming that the end of the pandemic is “in sight” even as health experts warn of the possibility of a second wave come fall when the COVID-19 outbreak coincides with flu season. 

“The end of the pandemic is in sight and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country,” Trump said.

The virtual event took place two days after the chaotic and bitter first presidential debate between Trump and Biden in Cleveland, Ohio, that was marred by personal jabs. The virtual setup of the dinner meant that neither candidate had to acknowledge the other. Neither mentioned his opponent by name.

Trump last appeared at the annual charity dinner in 2016 as the Republican nominee, using his remarks to deliver a harsh critique of his opponent, then-Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' Hillary Clinton: There must be a 'global reckoning' with disinformation Pelosi's archbishop calls for Communion to be withheld from public figures supporting abortion rights MORE, who was also present. Clinton used her own speech to mock Trump.