Each presidential election cycle, prospective Republican nominees seek to appeal to evangelical voters — and the annual Faith and Freedom Forum is one prominent venue through which to share such a targeted message.
Former President Donald Trump, who currently leads a crowded GOP primary field, delivered the keynote address at the forum on Saturday, using the opportunity to lay out his vision for a united Republican Party ahead of next year’s election.
“I believe that our enemies are waging war on faith and freedom, on science and religion, on history and tradition, on democracy, on God Almighty himself,” Trump said. “The radicals are setting fire to our Constitution, abolishing free speech, attacking religious beliefs.”
In addition to reaching out directly to American voters of faith, Trump also reiterated his frustration with his own political enemies dating back to the debunked allegations that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russian operatives.
Addressing his more recent legal trials, he said: “This is a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time, which has been fully exposed in the Durham Report.”
His reference was to the recently released evidence compiled by special counsel John Durham that the FBI behaved inappropriately in investigating the supposed Trump-Russia collusion.
Of course, Trump was not the only 2024 White House hopeful to take the stage at the recent conference. Many others received at least some support from the audience — including former Vice President Mike Pence, who has become a notable critic of his former boss since the Trump administration ended.
Pence called on others in the Republican primary field to endorse a federal abortion ban at a maximum of 15 weeks into pregnancy.
“We must not rest, and we must not relent until we restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law in every state in this country,” he said just under one year after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision enshrining federal abortion rights.
— The Hill (@thehill) June 24, 2023
One speaker who elicited a disapproving response from the crowd was former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who opted to focus on criticizing Trump directly, claiming: “He’s unwilling to take responsibility for any of the mistakes that were made. And that is not leadership, everybody. That is a failure of leadership.”