Donald Trump paused from another day of sparring with Hillary Clinton over national security issues Friday to reach out to faith voters, telling an audience at the Values Voters Summit that he will defend Christian values like “you’ve never seen before.”
Speaking at the gathering of conservative Christians in Washington, the Republican nominee said that political leaders have abandoned Christians, while the media mocks Christianity.
“Your values of love, charity and faith built this nation,” he told the audience. “How can it be that our media treats people of faith so poorly? One of the reasons is that our politicians have abandoned you to a large extent, and Hillary Clinton? You can forget about her.”
He promised that a Trump administration would buck that.
“A Trump administration, our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended like you’ve never seen before,” he said. “Believe me.”
He also reiterated his call to repeal the so-called Johnson amendment, which prevents tax-exempt groups, such as Christian organizations and churches, from endorsing political candidates. Striking a unifying tone, Trump promised to unite America if he were elected to the White House in November.
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“Imagine what our country could achieve if we worked together as one people, under one God, saluting one flag,” he said.
Trump’s remarks come after a week of back-and-forth between the campaigns on foreign policy, with just 60 days to go until the election.
Clinton called for new sanctions Friday on North Korea after it conducted its fifth nuclear test, something she called “a direct threat to the United States.” Trump meanwhile cast blame on Clinton for the North Korean situation.
“Clinton’s failed policies allowed threats to us and our allies to thrive around the world, including emboldening Iran and North Korea to accelerate their development of nuclear capabilities with impunity,” he said in a statement late Friday.
When pushed on what he would do in response to aggression from the North Koreans, the campaign said it would not reveal its plan to America’s enemies. Trump has been criticized for not outlining his plans for dealing with foreign policy challenges, especially in regard to ISIS.
“He’s not going to reveal all of his plans, and he’s made that very clear. And maybe someone can ask him in a debate,” campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CBS “This Morning.” `
Trump also came under fire for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin in an NBC town hall Wednesday this week, and for granting an interview to Russian government-backed Russia Today on Thursday.
Clinton took aim at Trump in a short press conference Friday after meeting with national security advisers. When asked about Trump’s relationship with Putin, Clinton said it was proof that Trump was not running a serious campaign.
“It’s not a serious presidential campaign, and it is beyond one’s imagination to have a candidate for president praising a Russian autocrat like Vladimir Putin and throwing his lot in with him,” she said.
Clinton’s campaign has been using her experience and sober outlook as a key part of the campaign, and announced Friday that the number of retired generals and admirals endorsing her has grown to 110. Trump, meanwhile, has said he has the endorsement of 88 retired generals and admirals.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, received his first intelligence briefing on Friday. While he did not offer specifics on what he was told, he said he and Trump would be “ready on day one.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.