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Trump struggles to say ‘evangelical’ and muddles up Israel in wild, incoherent speech at Christian event

Republican candidate arrived late to Nashville speech looking flushed and exhausted to rant about Democrats, the Department of Education, the Capitol riot and the ‘silencing’ of religious groups

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 23 February 2024 14:07 GMT
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Trump says Israel is the capital of Israel in weary speech to conservative Christians
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Donald Trump appeared on stage more than 90 minutes late in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday night, where he delivered a speech that was as wild as it was incoherent.

The Republican presidential front-runner appeared flushed and visibly exhausted as he arrived to address the National Religious Broadcasters’ (NRB) International Christian Media Convention, tripping over simple words like “evangelical” during an address littered with verbal miscues and false claims.

At various points, Mr Trump declared that he had made “Israel” the capital of Israel during his presidency (presumably confusing the decision to move its US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem), said that he planned to close down the Department of Education and praised the Capitol rioters, whom he again characterised as political prisoners and referred to as “the J6 hostages”, for their “tremendous spirit”.

He also falsely claimed that “everybody” agreed with the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade and, at one stage, appeared to confuse FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia in 2018 with the spurious Hunter Biden laptop affair so beloved of conspiracy-minded conservatives.

Mr Trump sought to appeal to his audience of believers by presenting himself, not altogether convincingly, as a man of faith, pushing the false narrative that Democrats are in favour of terminating unwanted infants “even after birth” and suggesting that any Christian who votes for the opposition must be “crazy”.

He also baselessly accused President Joe Biden’s administration of persecuting Roman Catholics – apparently forgetting that the president himself is a devout Catholic and regularly attends church.

Donald Trump gave a weary speech to conservative Christians on 22 February (AP)

“No one will be touching the cross of Christ under the Trump administration, I swear to you,” he vowed.

Attempting to stoke up fear against the non-existent threat of “big media and left-wing press groups” attempting to silence Christians, he promised, incoherently: “They want you to say what they want you… what they want to have you say. And we’re not gonna let that happen.

“You’re going to say as you want and you’re going to believe and you’re going to believe in God.

“You’re gonna believe in God because God is here and God is watching. And God probably can’t believe what he’s seeing!”

Perhaps least clearly of all, he closed with: “I will protect the content that is pro-God. We’re going to protect pro-God context and content.

“To that end, at the request of the NRB, I will do my part to protect AM radio in our cars. You know, we like to listen to AM radio.”

Mr Trump is 77 and has found himself caught up in an exhausting schedule of late as he campaigns for the Republican nomination while also battling court cases in New York, Washington DC, Georgia and Florida related to the four criminal indictments and 91 felony charges hanging over his head.

Yet, despite Mr Trump’s own glaring mistakes and gaffes of late, he has repeatedly sought to paint Mr Biden, at 81, as far too old for a second term in the White House and claimed he is in a state of cognitive decline.

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