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Trump fires up major faith gathering just days ahead of first debate clash with Biden

PoliticsTrump fires up major faith gathering just days ahead of first debate clash with Biden

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Former President Trump fired up a major gathering of conservative and faith voters on Saturday, just days ahead of what’s expected to be an epic head-to-head battle with President Biden in the first presidential debate of 2024.

A diverse crowd of more than a thousand attendees of the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority conference piled into the Washington Hilton’s ballroom to hear Trump, who spared no time in mentioning the pending clash.

“Nobody’s going to be watching the debate on Thursday night, right?” Trump quipped, prompting laughs from the crowd.

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Trump Faith & Freedom

Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s ‘Road to Majority’ policy conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. (Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein)

He spent part of his opening remarks calling for Christians to get out and vote in November. 

“Christians don’t vote that much. You don’t have to vote in four years, but you have to vote this time,” he joked.

Trump spoke on a number of issues important to voters of faith, including late-term abortion and his administration’s movement of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

“Never again will the federal government be used to target Americans of faith,” Trump said, referencing crackdowns on gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Faith & Freedom conference

Former President Trump speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. (Fox News Digital/Brandon Gillespie)

He also lamented religion “becoming less and less important” across the country, citing its decline as a reason the country is facing crime and other problems.

Trump railed against the “radical left,” who he said “rigged” the 2020 election, and vowed they wouldn’t do the same this year.

“They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom,” Trump said, referencing the various prosecutions being carried out against him.

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Donald Trump

Former President Trump stands onstage to deliver the keynote address at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Policy Conference on Saturday in Washington, D.C. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Trump got what appeared to be the loudest applause when speaking on illegal immigration, when he vowed to begin the “largest deportation operation in American history” on his first day in office.

The Road to Majority Conference is hosted annually by the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a major Christian grassroots organization with more than 3 million members across the U.S. 

The conference is known as the largest public policy gathering of conservative Christian activists in the U.S., and will focus on policy issues that matter most to voters of faith ahead of the 2024 election.

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin spoke just ahead of Trump, issuing a call to action to get the former president back into the White House, as well as strengthened Republican majorities in Congress.

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Ralph Reed

Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, addresses the 2024 Road to Majority Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. (Chris KLEPONIS/AFP)

The two appeared together for the first time earlier this month — not long after a poll showed Trump and Biden tied in the blue-leaning state — fanning the rumors already circulating that Youngkin is being considered as a potential vice presidential running mate.

Other prominent speakers at the conference were South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who left the Democratic Party in 2022, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty.

Noem, Carson and Gabbard have also all been mentioned as potential running mates for Trump. The event marks the latest instance where a number of those reportedly in the running for the role could be competing on stage for Trump’s approval ahead of the Republican National Convention this summer.

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Glenn Youngkin

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks during the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Policy Conference on Saturday. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Trump will meet Biden on an Atlanta stage this Thursday in a debate hosted by CNN, the first meeting between the two rivals since their final debate ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The two are only expected to meet on the debate stage one other time ahead of the November general election, when ABC News hosts its debate in September.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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