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President Trump's first public appearance since the strike that killed Major General Qassim Suleimaini of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps took place at Ministerio Internacional El Rey Jesus, a church in Miami on January 3rd. He mentioned the attack in Baghdad only briefly and predominantly used this public appearance to rally his evangelical Christian base of supporters and to portray himself as the restorer of faith. He repeatedly called Democrats anti-religious while boasting about his own faith based policies including tougher restrictions on abortion, promotion of right to pray in schools and weakening the Johnson Amendment, which has long restricted tax-exempt churches from endorsing or denouncing political candidates.
According to The New York Times, Trump has been gripped by anxiety about evangelical voters abandoning him, so he used this speech to point out that he is the best representative for them. “Evangelical Christians of every denomination and believers of every faith have never had a greater champion, not even close, in the White House, than you have right now,” Mr. Trump said, as The New York Times reports. “We’ve done things that nobody thought was possible. Together we’re not only defending our constitutional rights. We’re also defending religion itself, which is under siege.”
One of the reasons for this type of speech may be the fact that a widely circulated Christianity Today editorial denounced President Trump in December. Just a day after the editorial ran the Trump campaign announced the launch of the Evangelicals for Trump coalition in Miami. During his Miami speech Trump brought Cissie Graham Lynch, a granddaughter of Billy Graham, the founder of Christianity Today, to the stage in order to offer a rebuke of the magazine's call for his removal from the White House. Ms. Lynch vowed to help Trump win re-election. The appearance of Ms. Lynch showed that President Trump is very sensitive about any signs of critique from one of his strongest voting blocs. Evangelical group of voters had a critical impact on Trump's victory in 2016 so this event in Miami was an opportunity to highlight their support to President.
He used an opportunity to mock his political opponent by referring to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as “Pocahontas" and claiming that Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, had become religious just "two weeks ago."
“We can’t let one of our radical left friends come in here because everything we’ve done will be gone in short order,” Trump said according to The New York Times. “They can take it away pretty quickly.”