President Donald Trump spoke for the sixth time before a prominent gathering of evangelicals in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning, where chants of “four more years!” repeatedly broke out and at least one speaker referred to the president as her “good Samaritan.”
Trump spoke for over an hour at the annual Road to Majority Conference hosted by the national evangelical grassroots organization Faith & Freedom Coalition, an address in which the president touted his administration’s many accomplishments favored by Christian conservatives.
About halfway into the speech, Trump began to talk about the passage of the Right to Try legislation that he signed into law last year.
The new law allows people facing life-threatening conditions to receive experimental drugs that have not yet been approved by the FDA. During this time, he brought up onto the stage Natalie Harp, one of the first benefactors of the legislation.
Harp, a millennial, told the crowd that a medical error left her facing almost certain death from stage 2 bone cancer.
“You know, we all know the story about the good Samaritan. What you don’t know is that I was that forgotten person on the side of the road,” Harp told the crowd. “First, the medical establishment, they came by and they saw me there. So they wrote prescriptions for opioids and they walked on. Next, the political establishment, they saw me there. They stopped just long enough to come over and tell me how to die, how to speed up my death so I could somehow die with dignity.”
“But then an outsider, my good Samaritan, President Donald J. Trump, he saw me there and he didn’t walk by. He stopped. And for every single one of us, he gave up his own quality of life so we could live and work and fight with dignity because he believes in survival of the fighters, not the fittest,” she continued.
“So Mr. President, I have to say, you have made a lot of promises to us and you have kept every one of them. So now we are going to make you this promise: Just as you fought for us, forgotten America will never forget how you saw us on the side of the road and you walked over and you picked us up and you made us great again. Now we are going to fight for you, Mr. President. God bless you.”
Harp’s short remarks received an ovation from the adoring crowd that began chants of “Four More Years!”
As Harp left the stage, Trump touted the progress seen in Harp’s condition.
“She was in a wheelchair. She was in bed. It was so incredible,” Trump said. “They were actually preparing her for death. Because of Right to Try, they had a medicine that wouldn’t have been approved for years, it was looking very good.”
Trump said that people have been trying to pass Right to Try legislation for decades but the pharmaceutical companies didn’t want such a law because they didn’t want to have the deaths of terminally ill people on their records.
“We made a second record that people don’t see. You know it is unfair to them but they didn’t want it on their record because people were very far along, unfortunately,” Trump said. “But cases like Natalie have not even been that unique. We have saved many lives with what is going on. But also I guess that is probably also the best test for the medicine to see whether or not it is good. It has worked so well and we are so proud of it.”
While Harp praised Trump for believing in the “survival of the fighters,” conservative evangelical support for Trump continues to be called into question in the media because of the Trump administration’s policies pertaining to illegal immigration.
Recent reports have painted the Trump administration in a negative light, showing the horrifying conditions that migrant children are being detained in at the U.S. border without soap, toothpaste or basic hygiene items.
Trump, however, told the evangelical crowd that Democrats favor an open borders policy and “want to make things look bad.”
The real estate mogul contended also that his administration is taking better care of the migrant children than the Obama administration did.
“We are taking care of them, much better than President Obama took care of them,” Trump told the crowd. “I can tell you that. Much better. He was the one that had separation. I am the one that keeps them together.”
Trumps claims that the child separation policy happened under Obama have been refuted by many in the media and some former Obama administration staffers. Sam Vinograd, a national security analyst for CNN who previously worked for Obama’s National Security Council, said that when the Obama administration separated children, they did so to protect their safety and keep them away from traffickers.
“When President Obama separated children from their families, or from adults, it was for their protection. It was if there was a risk of trafficking or other kind of harm that might have been incurred,” Vinograd told CNN host Wolf Blitzer in April. “But even if he did do that, why is Donald Trump saying that two wrongs make a right? Again, Obama wasn’t wrong, but so he’s saying that because something happened under President Obama, he’s repeating it and upping the ante," she added.
In 2016, a Senate report found that although the Department of Health and Human Services was trying to protect children, it actually gave traffickers custody of around a dozen minors after failing to conduct background checks for those claiming to be caregivers or guardians.
As thousands upon thousands of migrants from all across the world are being detained at the U.S. southern border, Trump told the crowd that Democrats are to blame for the migrant crisis because they don’t want to close legal loopholes that incentivize child smuggling.
“Democrats are solely responsible for the humanitarian crisis because they refuse every single effort to shut off the magnets of child smuggling,” Trump declared. “As long as coyotes believe they can use children to evade our laws, children will continue to be endangered.”
Trump argued that if the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, had a “shred of moral decency” on the immigration issue, they would immediately change immigration laws.
“How do you have thousands of thousands of children?” he asked. “We have them because the law incentivizes criminals to bring children up and use those [children] to get people into our country. Can you ever imagine this? We are the only country in the world that has this.”
Trump joked that Mexico, which announced recently that it is putting 15,000 troops on the U.S.-Mexico border amid Trump’s threat to impose tariffs, is doing more to alleviate the migrant crisis than Democrats are.
Trump also contended that Democrats who oppose his and Republicans' ideas on immigration reform are making the drug and smuggling cartels “rich.”
“People are saying they are making as much money or more money with people now as they do with drugs,” Trump explained. “These are rough people, these are bad people, and we can solve it so easily. They've got to fix the loopholes and fix asylum.”
Trump also defended his administration’s cutting of millions of foreign aid to the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, a move also opposed by Democrats, humanitarian organizations, and even some evangelical leaders.
”We are close to an agreement with Guatemala, which you will appreciate it. They are doing much better for us now than when we paid them,” Trump stressed. “When we paid them, they would just take our money and laugh at us. Now, they will do anything to get that money back. If they do a great job, I think maybe we will do that.”
In his speech, Trump praised other gains his administration has made with the support of Christian conservatives.
Those include the nomination of two Supreme Court justices and over 140 federal judges, which he said is the highest percentage of judicial appointments of any president other than George Washington.
Trump also boasted about pro-life and religious freedom advancements, the passing of criminal justice reform last year and Supreme Court victories.
“This could all change very quickly,” Trump warned, encouraging evangelical turnout in November 2020. “We have done things that nobody would have thought possible. We have done things that are so good and so righteous but so, so fragile. But the wrong person in office … could change it very quickly.”
Ralph Reed, a longtime conservative Christian activists and head of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, told the crowd in his introduction for the president that Trump’s job approval rating today among evangelical Christians in the U.S. is the “highest ever recorded” at 83 percent.
“I just want to know who the other 17 percent are,” Reed said. “You see it here today at this conference. This is the largest Road to Majority Conference ever. This ballroom is packed and we had to turn away 750 to 1,000 people who stood in a line that snaked all the way to the street.”
“The truth is, we have been at this project now for 30 or 40 years. We have had some great leaders. There has never been anyone who has defended us and fought for us, who we have loved more than Donald J. Trump,” he continued. “Despite the critics and the media … despite the carping from the peanut gallery and the unfair attacks, not only on him but on us and our community, questioning our faith and our integrity because we stand with this good man, the reason why [we support Trump] is because we have seen his heart and he is everything he promised he would be and more.”