In Victory Lap With Values Voters, Trump Boasts ‘Guess What, We're Saying Merry Christmas Again'

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump returned triumphant on Friday to a key gathering of social conservatives, boasting that he's stocked the courts to their liking, cut funding for abortions and made it safe again to invoke God in the public space."We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values," he said, adding, "Guess what, we're saying Merry Christmas again."Trump last spoke to the Values Voter Summit 13 months ago -- two months before Election Day, at a time when he was still viewed as a long shot. Many prayed for his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton and he returned Friday as the first president to address the gathering.He boasted of steps to protect religious liberty, including an executive order erasing the "Johnson Amendment" -1954 legislation that put tax exemptions at risk if a church of other tax exempt entity endorsed a candidate. Pastors had bristled for decades under what they viewed as a gag rule.He also reinstated the Mexico City policy, which bars U.S. funding for groups that provide abortion counseling overseas."If I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule," he said. "When I promised that in a Trump administration our nation's religious heritage would be cherished, protected and defended like never before, that's what you're seeing."The summit is an annual gathering run by the Family Research Council, and for GOP presidential hopefuls, a mandatory stop. Trump ran a distant fifth place in a candidate straw poll at the summit two years ago, months before he began dispatching Sen. Ted Cruz and other rivals for the GOP nod with help from evangelical Christians -- much to the surprise of Cruz and others. He returned tn September 2016 as the GOP nominee. That was a few weeks before the infamous Access Hollywood tape surfaced -- a recording of the future commander in chief boasting that he routinely grabbed women by the genitalia, kissed them without consent, and had tried unsuccessfully to sleep with a married woman.Last week, on the anniversary of that revelation, Trump again shrugged off his coarse language: "That's locker room [talk]," he said.  Continue reading...

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