Transcript: Donald Trump’s closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders

Jon Ward
Senior Political Correspondent
Donald Trump shakes hands with Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, the nation’s largest Christian university, during an Iowa campaign event, Jan. 31, 2016. (Photo: Dave Kaup/Reuters)

Editor’s note: Donald Trump met with several hundred evangelical leaders in New York City on Tuesday to win over a voting bloc that is leaning toward him but not embracing the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Many conservative white evangelicals will never vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton but are unsure they would go beyond voting for Trump to working on his behalf and getting others to support him. 

Trump spent more than an hour taking questions from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, one of his vanquished rivals in the GOP primary, and other well-known conservative evangelical figures like James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Some speakers encouraged the crowd to support Trump, while acknowledging that doing so might be difficult for many of them. “He doesn’t expect you to agree with him on every issue or to endorse or condone his style of leadership,” said Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, who was one of the first nationally known evangelical Christians to endorse Trump. 

Reporters were not allowed into this event, but audio recordings of the proceedings were given to Yahoo News by multiple attendees. The following is a rough transcript of the event, lightly edited for clarity. It picks up during an unknown man’s introductory remarks.

Unidentified: As I sat there this morning — we just spent time with Dr. Carson and the next president of the United States, Donald Trump — I thought about two Bible verses. And I’m going to paraphrase just a bit. One is, “For such a time as this,” and the other one is this one, a commandment from our Savior, when he said, “Call unto me, and I will do great and mighty things that you do not know.” Think about that. “Call unto me, and I will do great and mighty things that you do not know.”

I have known Donald Trump since about 2 1/2 months before Barron was born. I know his family. I recently put out an article across the country, told the agriculture and rancher community that I believe America needs a chief executive officer in the White House. [Applause.] I think that to win this election, on the Republican side, we have to think out of the box. And we have to be strategic. And we have to pray like it all depends upon God and work like it all depends upon us.

It is an honor for me to introduce to you someone who is a great, great friend to all of us. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Ben Carson. [Applause]

Ben Carson: Thank you. And thank all of you for coming out, altering your schedules, and having faith that this would be a good investment of your time. You know, America is such an incredible place. It’s been such an incredible place for me, coming born to poverty. My main goal was to become middle class. I’d think, wow, if I could just be middle class, that would be so cool. This is a place that allows you, no matter where you came from, if you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules, to define your own destiny. And that’s so important for us to make sure it stays that way. You know, this election that’s coming up, this is about America and about what America represents. This is what we have got to get people to understand. There are so many people who say, “I don’t like Donald Trump” or “I don’t like Hillary Clinton” or “I don’t like whoever.” But it’s not about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. This is about whether this will be a nation that is of, for and by the people — not of, for and by the government.

You know, we all think that we have the special word from God. But the fact of the matter is, this is like a chess match, and God is the great grand master. We’re the spectators. We all think, it’s time for him to cancel right now, or to take that bishop with that rook, or to use that knight. But sometimes he uses a pawn, sometimes he does things in a way that is not very apparent to us. And that’s where faith comes in. Because God sets up the rulers, and he takes them down. We just need to be willing to understand that, because you look, for instance, in the case of Donald Trump. Just as an example. I’ll pick him out of the air. [Laughter]

Here’s a person who, it seemed like every week, the pundits were saying, “That’s it — he’ll never recover from that. It’s all over.” And then he’d go up in the polls. What that says to me is that God has something to do with what is going on right now. The week before last, I was on CNN with Jake Tapper, and he was saying, “You know, even [radio host] Hugh Hewitt is saying that Donald Trump is a terrible candidate and he can’t win. And he’s not a Democrat. He’s one of you guys.” And I said, “Is he a pundit?” And he said, “Well, yeah, he’s a pundit.” I said, “You should do a special program on how many times over the last two years, the pundits have been right. It’ll be a short program.” [Laughter] The look on his face was priceless after that.

If we go away from this meeting with the understanding that you all, who have tremendous spheres of influence, had an opportunity to hear the heart of Donald Trump on a lot of different issues … Through the questions, he will have an opportunity to hear your heart, and he heard several different leaders this morning talk about what’s on their heart. We need to just keep in mind that Hillary Clinton, when she was in college, was on a first-name basis with Saul Alinsky, who was her hero. Saul Alinsky, who wrote the book Rules for Radicals. If you haven’t read it, please read it. You need to know who you’re dealing with. And on the dedication page, guess who it acknowledges? Lucifer, who gave his own kingdom as a radical. [Moans from the audience]

This is who we are dealing with, ladies and gentlemen. You know, the ship is about to sail off Niagara Falls, full of passengers and everybody’s about to be killed. You know what we have to do? We have to stop the ship — number one. Number two, we have to turn it around. And number three, we have to sail in the other direction. There are a lot of people who think you can do all of that at the same time. You cannot. First, let’s stop the ship. Let’s do that this fall in massive numbers. We can then turn it around. We can then sail it in the other direction. I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for. I’m just telling you to use your brain. There’s a reason that God gave us these very sophisticated brains, made in His image. And it should be very apparent who is interested in religious liberty and who is interested in taking those things away from us. But we are the ones who make the determination. It’s time for us to put the stake in the ground, and not sit down and shut up like they want us to do. But to stand up for our faith. Thank you. [Applause]

To get us started, I want to introduce a good friend, a wonderful individual who you all know. We met decades ago and have had the pleasure — Candy and I — of actually being flown by him in an airplane. He’s a pilot as well as a great evangelist. He’s a person of strong conviction who does not believe in political correctness, which makes him a hero in my book. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dr. Franklin Graham.

Franklin Graham (president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association): Thank you. It’s been my privilege these last few months to travel across the country, to hold prayer rallies at state capitals, on their steps. When we first pulled out permits, we pulled them for 500 people, but we had no clue how many would come. Thousands and thousands gathered, in the cold in some places, early in the year in snow, in rain. We had thousands come to pray. Not to hear me, but they’d come to pray because they know our country is in trouble. And ladies and gentlemen, I don’t need to convince you of that — you know that. And as we look at who is to be the next president of the United States, many people are looking at qualities. And I’d like to take just a moment to look at the Bible.

Some of the individuals are our patriarchs: Abraham — great man of faith. But he lied. Moses led his people out of bondage, but he disobeyed God. David committed adultery and then he committed murder. The Apostles turned their back on the Lord Jesus Christ in his greatest hour of need, they turned their backs and they ran. Peter denied him three times. All of this to say, there is none of us is perfect. We’re all guilty of sin. Franklin Graham stands here in front of you today as a sinner. But I’ve been forgiven by God’s grace. He forgave me. I invited Christ to come into my heart and my life. He forgave me. There’s no perfect person — there’s only one, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ. And he’s not running for president of the United States. This year.

So I would just like to open up with a word of prayer. Our Heavenly Father, we thank you that you love us. Thank you for sending your son Jesus Christ from heaven to this earth to save us. To save us from our sins. Thank you that he took our sins to that cross, that you raised him to life, thank you, Father. And, Father — as we look at this nation, as we look at the trouble that we’re in — Father, we recognize as a people that we have failed. We have sinned. And we ask for your forgiveness, Father. And, Father, we pray this election that you will give a man to be the president of this country who will honor life, who will respect our Constitution, who will respect the authority of the office. And, Father, we pray that your will will be done. And, Father, we ask now that you would bless this meeting and this time together, as Mr. Trump is able to answer questions. And, Father, we pray that each one here today will leave this room with a new appreciation of this man and this family. So, Father, we thank you. And in Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

I would like to introduce now a very good friend of mine. Jerry Falwell Jr., who doesn’t need an introduction. He has one of the great universities, that his father started, that he has taken it to a whole new level. My three sons found their wives at Liberty University, and so I owe a great debt to Jerry’s daddy, who is now in heaven and I’m sure he’s watching us today. But he is a great friend, and I have a lot of respect for Jerry Falwell Jr. Jerry, come.

Jerry Falwell Jr. (president of Liberty University): Franklin mentioned that his three sons came to Liberty. He didn’t mention that the youngest of the three spent more time out at our farm than he did studying. I wrote many notes for him, excusing him for not being ready for a test. But he made it through, and we love the whole Franklin Graham family.

But first, I want to get Gov. Mike Huckabee to come out and sit on the platform, get ready. He’s going to be the moderator this morning. [Applause] Gov. Huckabee was telling us at dinner last night how in 1979, Ronald Reagan addressed a group just like this, and he told the group, “I understand that the rules in many cases don’t allow you to endorse me, but I’m here to endorse you and what you believe.” That changed the tide of that election, and I see some folks with gray hair nodding who remember that. It was great to be reminded of that last night by the governor. It’s my distinct honor and privilege to welcome a man who I’ve introduced twice at Liberty University. And over the last four years, my wife and I have remained in close contact with Mr. Trump. As our friendship has grown, so has my admiration for Mr. Trump. As you know, Liberty University does not support or oppose candidates for public office — a lawyer makes me say that — but I personally feel strongly that Donald Trump is God’s man to lead our nation at this crucial crossroads in our country’s history. [Applause]

Many of you knew my father well. He loved God, loved his country. He was criticized in the early 1980s for supporting Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter because Reagan was a Hollywood actor who had been married and divorced and remarried. Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher. He later was criticized for supporting George Bush Sr. over his good friend the Rev. Pat Robertson. But he proudly replied to those criticisms that when Jesus said render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, that meant we are to be good citizens, voting, active in the political process, serving in our armed forces, if necessary. And while Jesus never told us how to vote, he gave us all the good common sense to choose the best leaders. Sunday was Father’s Day. My family made it a very special day for me. It reminded me of some of the things my father said that seem particularly relevant today. In 2006, when there was first talk of Hillary Clinton running for president, he said, “I hope Hillary is the candidate because nothing will energize my constituency like Hillary Clinton.” He said, “If Lucifer himself ran, that wouldn’t work as well.”

His last national interview was with Christiane Amanpour of CNN just a few days before his death in 2007, and in that interview he joked that he had dreamed recently that Chelsea Clinton had interviewed him and asked him what are the three greatest threats facing our nation. He replied, “Osama, Obama, and your mama.” Now Osama’s gone, Obama’s on his way out, and we have the chance to make sure that Chelsea’s mama goes out of politics with them.

In the last presidential election, there were 25 million Christians who were registered but who didn’t bother to show up at the polls. We are the single most influential voting bloc. My father’s polarizing statements made people who didn’t know him think that he was tough and mean, but he was anything but. People who knew him personally attested to the fact that he helped people in need. He couldn’t keep any money in his pocket because he gave it away to whoever needed some help. And he gave away so many scholarships at Liberty University, he nearly bankrupted the school. But I’ve come to see many of these same qualities in Donald Trump. I want to introduce you to the Donald Trump that I know, to tell you why I trust him. Not Donald Trump in the media, or of his critics. I’ve seen a man who honors his fiduciary responsibilities through his corporations. He makes tough decisions to ensure his businesses’ success. He speaks the truth publicly even if it is uncomfortable for people to hear. Yet he treats his friends, his employees, and people in need with the greatest respect, loyalty and generosity.

I gave many examples of Mr. Trump’s personal generosity when I welcomed him to Liberty University earlier this year. Ecclesiastes 3:8 says that there is a time for war and a time for peace. Now it is, from my perspective, the time for peace. To me this election is very simple. We have an election between someone who promises he will support issues important to us as Christians, including appointing justices to the Supreme Court who would make us all proud. That’s Donald Trump. And someone who promises she will do just the opposite. That’s Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump is a breath of fresh air in a nation where the political establishment of both parties has betrayed their constituencies time and time again with broken promises and a continuation of the status quo. Mr. Trump is a bold and fearless leader who will take the fight to our enemies, and to the radical Islamic terrorists, whether they attack in San Bernardino, Orlando or Paris. Or whether they simply just steal American jobs through unfair trade practices.

The day after Ronald Reagan became president, Iran released American hostages that had been held for 444 days. In my opinion, the day after Trump becomes president, every terrorist in the world will crawl under a rock in similar fashion. He is here because no leader leads alone. He wants to hear from you, from us, and he has been a friend to this community. He is and has been a friend. He doesn’t expect you to agree with him on every issue or to endorse or condone his style of leadership. If we all wait for the perfect candidate who has the demeanor of our pastors and agrees with us on every issue — including our personal theological beliefs — then we may all sit at home on Election Day for the rest of our lives. How many of you can honestly say that you agree with your spouse on everything? I know I can’t. Donald Trump shuns the censorship that is rooted in political correctness and speaks the plain common-sense truth that so many have been longing to hear. The mainstream press expected this to end his candidacy early on, but it did just the opposite. He soared in the polls and now is the presumptive Republican nominee.

Liberty University is a unique institution because unlike most nonprofit universities, we try to operate like a business, emphasizing efficiency, treating students like customers. As general counsel at Liberty in my younger years, we fought to survive. I spent many days negotiating with creditors and spent many weekends with my father, begging and borrowing from lenders and donors to cover the paychecks that we had already written on the Friday before. But by applying common-sense business principles with an entrepreneurial spirit, we finally saw success. In just the last five years, Liberty has become one of only about 70 universities in the country that are rated AA or AAA by Standard and Poors and Moody’s. The Chronicle of Higher Education in February of the past year predicted that Liberty’s business model could become the future of higher education. It was reported in the Richmond Times just this week that Liberty has bucked the trend of divestment in Israel by many major institutions by doing just the opposite and investing many millions of dollars of our endowment in Israel.

Donald Trump is the only candidate in this election who has achieved independent financial success. He’s not a puppet on a string like the other candidate, who has wealthy donors — some from countries who oppress women and gays — as her puppet masters. And that’s a key reason why so many voters are attracted to him. Imagine how wonderful it would be for once that the United States of America has as its president a man who has built companies from scratch, who knows what it feels like to be solely responsible for finding the money each week to cover payroll, who runs the nation with the same entrepreneurial business principles that have brought success to his own companies. You know, our Founding Fathers envisioned a nation governed by citizen legislators, and I believe the American public is finally ready to elect a candidate who is not a career politician, but rather who has succeeded in life, in the real life, in the real world. Please welcome a man who I pray earnestly will be the next president of the United States, Mr. Donald J. Trump. [Applause]

Mike Huckabee: Mr. Trump, I want to begin by expressing appreciation to you for coming and being willing to sit at the assembly of some of the great spiritual leaders and faith leaders in America. And I’m pretty sure I’m right when I say that I don’t think Hillary is gonna have a meeting like this, where she’s willing to sit down with the faith community, answer questions, and speak from the heart to the people of our country. I want to say, on behalf of all these folks who are gathered, thank you. [Applause]

Donald Trump: This began as just a little event. Ben Carson came up — we love Ben. We’ve become really, really great friends. He said, “Would it be possible? We have some religious leaders, we have some great evangelicals, good Christians, and just a small gathering. Maybe 100 people. I figured 15-20 minutes, maybe half an hour to see them.” I said, “Absolutely, Ben. It’d be my honor.” And this came out to be over 1,000 people. And you know what? That shows we all love each other, and that’s so important. Ben is one of the greatest salesmen I’ve ever met. He said, “Do you think you can keep it going longer than the time?” And I said, “Absolutely.” So we’re gonna spend as much time as we need today.

Huckabee: I think it’s fair to say that we’re all happy to be here, but Ben Carson and I aren’t as happy to be here. [Laughter] We are here today because the people of America have overwhelmingly decided that you should be the nominee of the Republican Party. I want to make sure that you know that people have not come to this room as an imposition. They’ve not come to this room to try to trap you or trick you. They’ve come to this room because they want to be behind somebody who will lead this nation out of the abyss that we have been in for eight years.

We’re gonna have a number of questions from delightful individuals who have carefully thought through the questions they want to ask. We’re going to get to as many of them as we humanly can. We’ll try to keep the questions as short as possible, and the answers brief and to the point, so that we can get to everybody. Before we go to the individual questions, there’s something that I want to say to you and ask you to respond to it. Because it’s something that I saw, in a way that most people would not have seen. Because if they weren’t on the stage during the presidential debates and also backstage, they would not have seen what I saw, what Ben Carson saw.

The relationship that you have with your family, the relationship and bond that you have with your adult children, is one of the most admirable I’ve ever seen from any father with children. [Applause] People can fake it onstage — they can walk out and do a happy family moment — but you can’t fake that backstage, over and over again. What I saw was real. And it was one of the reasons that I have had no hesitation endorsing you, supporting you, and enthusiastically encouraging people to get behind your candidacy. We’re going to talk about a lot of issues. But I want you to begin today by expressing: What is it about the relationship you have with your children that is so special? What is that bond all about?

Trump: Well, thank you very much. That’s such a nice question. I have great children. I mean, I have really five wonderful children. Three of them are now … well, Eric is right here. Through God, they were born intelligent. They went to top colleges. That’s really a part of it, because in a certain way, you have to be lucky with that, to be honest. Maybe it’s not luck. I think it’s more than luck. They were all very good students. I better knock on wood when I say all this stuff, because I’ll get a call — “Did you know about this?” It’s a vicious world out there, folks.

So many of my friends who have children who are very, very smart, they’ve got everything going, family’s got money, and everything’s fine. And they’ll call me up and say, “Will you see my son, will you see my daughter? Because I love the way your children are.” I get a lot of compliments on the children. And I have to say, the thing that I always tell parents is — because I’m asked to speak about it — is I would from the time they were little children — I mean, they didn’t even know what the words meant. “No drugs, no alcohol,” and I’d say, “No cigarettes,” I’d add it in. Because if you don’t have to smoke, it’s an advantage, OK? But “no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes,” always. And it would drive them crazy. They’d say, “Dad, stop!” I remember Ivanka just going, “I can’t take it!” She didn’t even know what drugs and alcohol were. But I’d drum it — Eric can tell you. I’d drum it into them because I’ve seen so many children who are as smart as you can get, the highest IQs, everything else. It’s over because they got hooked on something. It’s such a competitive world. It’s more dangerous than ever, the most dangerous we’ve ever had — that’s why we need to take care of our military, we have to take care of all our things. We’re not going to be here, we can only do so much. But I always tell people, “No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes.”

And I add to some — if it’s appropriate: I say, if they go to church and if they start at a young age, that’s a tremendous asset. You don’t see that too much today, where I went to Sunday school at First Presbyterian Church in [unintelligible]. It was like, you go to Sunday school, you have to do that. It’s not like, oh gee. It’s like automatic. Today, I don’t think it’s so automatic. And maybe we can get back into a position where it’s automatic. [Applause]

The government has gotten so involved in your religion. Especially your religion, that it makes it very difficult. We’ll talk about that. Mike and I have been discussing it, and I think we have some very important things to say. The next president — it’s going to be vital. Not only with Supreme Court justices, which we’ll also talk about at length. But also in things like freeing up your religion, freeing up your thoughts, freeing up your. … You talk about religious liberty and religious freedom. You really don’t have religious freedom, if you really think about it, because when President Johnson had his tenure, he passed something that makes people very, very nervous to even talk to preserve their tax-exempt status. It’s taken a lot of power away from Christianity and other religions. I’ve seen it. This is something that I’ve brought up. I was telling Mike, I’ve been meeting with Paula White, who’s been so involved, Pastor Paula — she’s over here. And Darrell Scott and Pastor Burgess. We were at a meeting of 50 ministers, pastors, Christians, two rabbis. I said, “Why is it that the whole thing with Christianity, it’s not going in the right direction? It’s getting weaker, weaker, weaker from a societal standpoint?” And over the course of various meetings, I realized that there are petrified ministers and churches. They speak before 25,000 people, the most incredible speakers you could ever see, better than any politician by far. And yet when it comes to talking about it openly or who they support or why they support somebody because he’s a person — a man or a woman — who is into their values, they’re petrified to do it.

And I couldn’t get the answer. And then one day, at one of our meetings, somebody said, “They’re petrified of losing their tax-exempt status.” And I said, “What is that all about?” And they went into it. It was what happened during the Johnson administration. And I will tell you folks that some of you will agree, some of you will disagree, and some of you, it’s been ingrained and that’s the worst thing because you don’t even think about it. You can’t see the forest for the trees, some of you are so close to it. But I can tell you, I watched this during the last year, and I watched fear in the hearts of brave, incredible people. And we are going to get rid of that, because you should have the right to speak. [Applause]

Huckabee: You mentioned Paula White. The two of you have been very close personally. She’s been like a spiritual counselor and adviser. It’s not something you go around talking about all the time. One of the things I’d say to all the people here: My conversations with Paula, who I adore, is a great reminder to me that you are willing to listen to spiritual counsel from people who you know and you trust. That’s very encouraging and comforting. I don’t think anybody here expects you to be theological today. I want to put you at ease. Because I don’t think anyone’s here thinking we’re interviewing you to be our next pastor. This is not a pastoral search committee. So you’re off the hook for deep theological questions, and I think that’s probably important. Some people are very vocal about their faith, and other people are not. But it’s like the old guy said: Some people eat their soup louder than other people, but it doesn’t mean the soup tastes any different. So we understand that. We come at this with that clarity.

Let’s get to the questions. And I think the first one we’re gonna have is from Dr. Dobson.

James Dobson (founder of Focus on the Family): I am delighted to be here with the Gospel greats. It’s just a wonderful thing to see this assembly. It’s wall-to-wall and front-to-back. It’s a pleasure. I also want to tell you that I have some water here with me, and I want to tell you why. I’ve had some trouble with my voice, and I went to an ear, nose and throat doctor just a month ago. And he ran a thing down my nose, looked at my larynx, and he got a grim look on his face. I said, “What’s my problem?” And he said, “You talk too much.” I’m gonna keep this real short. We just came from another meeting, and I expressed some thoughts to Donald Trump, and I’ve been asked to repeat them. I just want to say, Sir, thank you for being here. I think everybody appreciates the fact that you took the time from all that you’ve got going on. [Applause]

In order to facilitate this session, the request for questions to be given to Mr. Trump was submitted to over a million people — I think that many, I’m not sure. Fifty thousand questions came back. And then they did an analysis of those questions to see what people wanted Mr. Trump to talk about. The number one issue was religious liberty — more than anything else. Because all the other issues relate to that one. And we’re losing it. We’re losing our religious liberty. As you know, that’s bred into our spirits and the American way of life. The Pilgrims came to this country with one motivation that drove them more than anything else: the desire to live free and be able to worship the God of their choice. That has set the tone for everything that’s come after.

And then, of course, our Founding Fathers wrote that in the Constitution, where the Bill of Rights, those 10 enumerated rights, started with religious liberty. It was put number one for a reason! Because that sets the tone. That is the foundation for all our other freedoms. And yet when Barack Obama became president, I think there was a conscious effort to undermine our religious liberty. You’ve probably seen it from that time to this. Have you noticed that the president and Democrats and Hillary — yes, Hillary — no longer talk about “freedom of religion”? They talk about “freedom of worship.” Why have they changed that? It’s very small, a one-word change. Well, freedom of worship means that you are confined to your churches and your synagogues, but freedom of religion, as identified in the Constitution, is in the public square, it’s everywhere. So they have tried to limit us to our church activity. So we’re seeing more and more of that.

Mr. Trump, we would like you to start your comments by answering that question: What will your administration do to help promote all of our freedoms — all of the Bill of Rights, and what it has meant to be an American — and protect us? Or do we have to fight another Revolutionary War to preserve them?

Trump: Thank you very much, I appreciate it. First of all, I’m not surprised to hear that that is the number one question. We talk about religious liberty, and I think it is the number one question. There are numerous things that we’re going to be doing. For one thing, we’re going to appoint great Supreme Court justices. [Applause]

And these will be Supreme Court justices that will be great intellects, that will be talented men in what they do (and women), but also be pro-life. [Applause] As you know, because of the fact that I haven’t been a politician for very long — I’ve been a politician now for a little more than 12 months — I was on the other side of it. I was a major contributor, I was part of the establishment. And all of a sudden when I ran, they said, “Wow, he’s an outsider.” I became an outsider in 24 hours. But I decided — because there’s always skepticism of someone who hasn’t been speaking to the public for 25 years and you know exactly what their views are — I decided to name 11 justices that were highly vetted by the Federalist Society and others. I’ll probably name four or five more that will be on a list, so they’ll know who we’ll be picking. But we’re doing a list, so they know who we’re going to be picking. It’ll be either them or people who are very similar.

We lost a great one in Scalia, Justice Scalia, and that was a great surprise. But this president, this next president, could have as many as five. Hard to believe. I don’t believe there’s ever been as many as five. But we could have five justices of the Supreme Court. Probably three, very possibly four, and could even be five. So if Hillary gets in, we know what she’s going to be putting in there. We know exactly what’s going to happen. We’re going to end up being a different world, a different country. We’re going to end up being a Venezuela if she gets in, for a lot of different reasons. You see what’s going on in Venezuela right now, where they’re fighting each other, killing each other over a loaf of bread. We are going to have a lot of problems in this country. So I just think it’s so important.

And, again, what I said in my opening remarks, having to do with the Johnson Amendment, whatever you want to call it, everybody knows exactly what it is. A lot of people in the church don’t like to talk about it. [The Johnson Amendment prohibited political endorsements by tax-exempt organizations.] I think it may be my greatest contribution to Christianity — and other religions — is to allow you to go and speak openly. If you like somebody and you want somebody to represent you, you should have the right to do that. [Applause]

In one of these meetings with the pastors and ministers, I pointed out to the street on Fifth Avenue, and I said, “You know, those people walking down the street individually have more power than you do because they can say whatever they want and you can’t.” And we have to get rid of that, and if we don’t, I really think you’re going to have a continuing spiral. And I don’t want to see that, because I’ve been a Christian and I love Christianity. And the evangelicals have been so incredibly supportive. Don’t forget—when I ran, and all of a sudden I went to states that are highly evangelical — like, as an example, South Carolina. … And not only did I win, I won in a landslide, and the evangelicals were on my side. And then I won the South, and I won all over. And the evangelicals were so incredible. They really get me, they understand me, and it’s an amazing group.

I always say, we’re gonna have a time very soon, when I get elected, when people are going to say “Merry Christmas” again. You don’t say it right now. You go into the big department stores, they don’t have Merry Christmas up. They have “Happy Holidays,” and now even that is coming under assault. You can’t say “Happy Holidays.” We’re becoming so politically correct that we can’t function as a country anymore. [Applause] We’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” again, and we’re going to be saying a lot of other things. When coaches aren’t allowed to pray on the field with their team, [applause] going into battle? That’s a disgrace, and that’s gonna change. And not everybody has to pray if they don’t want to, and that’s fine. But when a coach has a team and they’re going into battle and they’re restricted from praying — and they fire the coach! — those days will be over. [Applause]

Huckabee: I honestly think we almost stop now, because what you just said was so refreshing.

Trump: I will say, I know you like it, I know Dr. Dobson likes it — this is a tremendous man, by the way… [tape change]. Hillary — they covered her on Fox today. If she says something, the mainstream media doesn’t want to pick it up. They don’t pick it up. They protect her. If we say something — we, as a group — it’s brutal. But I’ve been really hit for everything. They take a great story and make it a somewhat negative story. It’s amazing. It’s really, it’s an incredible thing to watch. I will say this: The polls, the polls came out today. And they came out on CNN. The CNN anchors were devastated because they’re so close. They said, Trump’s had his worst three weeks — which I didn’t think I did! I had my worst three weeks in the press, but I don’t think I had my worst three weeks by any stretch. But the Post came out — there was a 3- to 4-point spread. They say, I can’t believe it, she had the best two weeks of her life, and there’s very little difference in the polls. I tell you, folks, if we get out and vote, we’re gonna win so easily. So easily.

Ronnie Floyd (former president of the Southern Baptist Convention): Thank you, Mr. Trump. It’s a great honor for me to stand and represent all these people today to ask you this question. As evangelical believers, oftentimes the media frames us as a voting bloc. But the term “evangelical” means a lot more than that to us. It means that we believe the Bible is the absolute authority for all of life, faith and practice; that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation; that the ultimate hope of the world is to get the Gospel to all people in the world, regardless of the color of their skin. And we also believe that every person has worth, that God has created us all in His image. And with that, today, I ask this question to you: President Obama was the first black president in American history. And, unquestionably, this was a great triumph for the United States, for civil rights. And we all celebrate that moment. Yet, the nation seems today to be more divided racially and there is more violence in the inner cities than when President Obama was elected. My question is pertaining to you and your administration. If you’re elected president of the United States, what will you do to address the real need of poverty and crime, violence and a lack of opportunity in the urban areas of our country? And to heal the worsening racial tension in the United States of America?

Trump: Now, there is one word that would take care of a big chunk of it, and that’s jobs. We need jobs. [Applause] Our jobs are being taken away to other countries. NAFTA — which is one of the worst things ever signed economically in this country’s history, it was signed by Bill Clinton — it’s a disaster. I won all these states by such big margins, I’m looking at all these factories that closed 20 years ago and are rotting, really. Jobs have to be brought back. With that, we also have to understand — and they don’t get enough credit — but our police forces do an unbelievable job. They are so ridiculed and so maligned: You have one bad actor, something happens, it’s a national story for weeks, and they don’t show you the good work the police do. One thing I have to say is that when Obama got elected, I didn’t think he was going to be a great president — I didn’t know it would be like this. … But I thought he would be a great cheerleader, especially when you’re talking about the inner cities. And what they need is they need training, but they also need spirit. There’s no spirit in these inner cities. You look at what’s going on in Chicago. Chicago’s like a tale of two cities. There’s no training, there’s no spirit, there’s no hope for these people. We’ve gotta get in and we’ve gotta straighten it out. We’ve got a spirit crisis in this country, and I’m not only talking about the inner cities — I’m talking everywhere.

People are showing up to my rallies because the economy’s terrible. The 5 percent [unemployment rate] is a phony number that’s derived by politicians who were [unintelligible] years ago — before Obama — to make presidents and politicians look good. And you all know, you’ve heard it a thousand times — you look for a job, you look look look, and then you give up. And then you’re not considered unemployed because you’re not looking. The real number’s gotta be over 20 percent, the real number. The job situation — they’re bad jobs. The other thing, because of Obamacare — which we will repeal and replace, 100 percent — the premiums are going through the roof. You know, in Texas, Blue Cross BlueShield, because of Obamacare, they just announced a 60 percent increase. They’re going to announce an increase on Nov. 1, for much of the country, that’s going to be so high that it’s election changing. Believe me. Election changing. And now what they’re trying to do, because of the election, they’re trying to get that notice, instead of Nov. 1, they’re trying to get Dec. 1 or next year. And we cannot let that happen. Because it’s going to be numbers that are even higher than Texas, that’s what I’m hearing.

It is a horrible thing that’s going on with Obamacare. It’s a ruse. It was gotten there by fraud. I mean, he said 28 times, you’ll keep your doctor, you’ll keep your plan, all this stuff. And even Democrats say that’s why they voted for it. I mean it only passed by, like, a vote. But we’re gonna repeal it and replace it. We’re gonna get to the inner cities. We need a lot of work on the inner cities. It’s one of the toughest jobs we’re gonna have. The inner cities are a tough, tough job. That’s been going on for a long time. And through various incentives and lots of other things, including spirit and training, we’re gonna get things straightened out. People don’t wanna talk about the inner cities. But one of the toughest problems we have is right there. It’s not something our politicians wanna talk about.

David Jeremiah (senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church): Mr. Trump, we’re happy to be here and stand with you. This has been already a great morning. We just came back from Israel, where we led 700 people on a tour of the Holy Land. While we were there, we had this incredible sense that the people of Israel feel abandoned by this country. Over the last seven years, the relationship that we have with Israel has deteriorated to such a degree that I felt like apologizing to them over what has happened. For those of us who are Christians, this is not just a policy issue, because we know, theologically, that we’ve been given our orders with regard to Israel. [Applause]

God told Abraham, I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you. Our status as a nation depends upon our relationship with Israel. And we need a president who will be a friend to the people of Israel. They are a little country, the size of New Jersey, surrounded by 37 nations who want to obliterate them off the face of the earth. We are the only friend they have. If you should become president, and I believe you will, and I’m already praying that you will … When you become president, we want to know how you are going to stand with Israel and stand against those who want them to give up some of their land in order to have peace.

Trump: I’m 100 percent for Israel. I have been forever. It is an amazing country. It has been shunned by the United States, in favor of Iran and others. Nobody knows what’s going on. The Iran deal is one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen. I’m not even talking about country to country. I’m just talking as a negotiation. They should use that as a study at the Wharton School of Finance on how not to do a deal. [Laughter] We gave everything, including we’re giving them back $150 billion, and now they’re going around buying anything they want, including probably nuclear weapons. I said, they won’t have to make ’em, they can buy ’em. In particular, it was a horrible deal for Israel. So many of my friends are Jewish. In all fairness, they supported Obama over the years. I would say, “Why are you doing this? He’s a disaster for Israel.” They love Israel, they fight for Israel, and then they support Obama. If you look at Bibi Netanyahu, I don’t know if he’s said it publicly, but I can’t imagine that he likes Obama too much. [Laughter] He has forsaken these people for Iran and others, but Iran in particular. And, folks, Iran has become a major power. They’re gonna take over Iraq. I was against the war in Iraq, but I was totally against the way we got out of Iraq as well. I said, “Keep the oil, keep the oil, keep the oil.” They didn’t keep the oil. In the old days of going to war, you’d keep it, right? To the victor go the spoils. Folks, honestly? We have stupid people leading this country.

I could say it — I went to an Ivy League school, I could say it much nicer than that. But there’s no better description. [Laughter] And now Israel’s almost like lost to our country. We will bring that back, and we will bring it back fast. We’re going to be close to Israel.

Samuel Rodriguez (president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference): Latino evangelicals are not a monolithic voting constituency, but it is the fastest-growing religious demographic right now. It is a community committed to life — we’re staunchly committed to life; biblical truth; we’re committed to educational equality. One of the issues that concerns us is immigration. We are not in favor of amnesty. We have every right to stop all illegal immigration as expeditiously as possible. [Applause] There are terrorists coming in, narco traffickers coming in that want to do us harm. But you talk about building a wall. And because of what’s taken place previously — and even the interpretation through various media platforms and such — there is the idea in the Latino community that you have no commitment whatsoever to building a bridge to the Hispanic-American community. What’s your strategy, Mr. Trump, in doing both things — in protecting our borders, protecting our nation, and simultaneously building a bridge with this wonderful community called the Hispanic-American community?

Trump: We have a country, but we don’t have borders. The southern border is a disaster. Coming in through the southern border are massive, massive, massive amounts of drugs and lots of problems. If we don’t have a border, we don’t have a country. And there is no country. There’s gotta be a border, a line, you know, something to obey. I have thousands of Latinos and Hispanics and Mexicans working for me, phenomenal people. And this has nothing to do with anything other than, to have a country, we have to have a border. I did the wall, and the wall has become massively popular with tremendous numbers. You know, Hillary Clinton wanted a wall — I think in ’06, she wanted to build a wall. I watched the other day. There was a clip of her wanting to build a wall. I received the other day, 60,500 endorsements from the border patrol guards. [Applause] These are intelligent people who do their jobs, who I got to know by going down to the border, and I said to them, “So let me ask you, how important is the wall?” And they said, “So important, Mr. Trump, you have no idea. We need the wall. It’s another tool and maybe our most important tool in stopping what’s happening with drugs and people coming illegally over the border.” And I said, “Good — I feel good about it when you say that. Because if you didn’t say that, frankly, I don’t know what I’d do, because you people know better than anybody.

And you know, their job is much easier now. Because they’re told to stand back, don’t do anything. And what’s happened is that people are just pouring across the border. Look around the country. We’re going to stop them. We’ve got heroin pouring into this country that’s destroying the fabric of our children’s lives and lives beyond our children. When I won New Hampshire, I got very, very familiar with the people up there. I talked about it all the time. You see these beautiful valleys, these rivers and streams. It’s so beautiful as a place. And I said, “What’s your biggest problem?” They said, “Heroin.” And I said, “Heroin? It doesn’t match. Heroin doesn’t go with that stream.” And they said, “No, it’s pouring across the borders. It’s cheaper than candy, practically. And our children are hooked.” We have to help those people get better because they’re so badly hooked. We have to stop this junk from pouring into our country.

If my children were hooked on heroin, they wouldn’t be with me now, they wouldn’t be doing well, and they wouldn’t know what’s even happening. Because I’ve seen it. It’s a horrible, horrible drug. And there are plenty of other drugs too, by the way, coming in. So we’re gonna build a wall, and I think we’re doing very well with Hispanics. You know, a man who has a radio station in New York, all Hispanic, he was on television the other day. And he said, “I don’t know. I see these polls. And I have a radio talk station. All these people calling up, they’re all, you know, Latino. They’re all in favor of Trump. They all want Trump.” And he was just a guy on television. I think he owned the station or something. He said, “They’re all in favor of Trump.”

So I hear the polls, but I don’t see it. And Sammy sort of alluded to that today when we were discussing it. I think we have tremendous support. And especially from people who are here legally. Because they don’t want to have their jobs taken away. They don’t want their houses taken away. I think we’re going to do a fantastic job. But the wall is very important from this standpoint. And, by the way, other politicians said, “You can’t build a wall,” like it’s hard to build. In China, they built the Great Wall of China, which is 13 times longer. Thirteen times. They built the Great Wall of China in — well, they probably didn’t have Caterpillar tractors, by the way. You know, 2,000 years ago, they built the Great Wall of China, and we’re saying we can’t build the wall. The wall is so easy from a construction standpoint. They actually wanted to build it, and they were unable to get their environmental impact statements — can you believe that? Because probably a certain form of rattlesnake was in their way. That’s a true story.

I jokingly say, as China is building a massive, massive military facility in the South China Sea, I say, “How long do you think it took them to get their environmental impact statements?” As they have the largest excavators in the world ripping the hell out of the ocean and dumping? They started working not on Monday, they started working on Saturday morning.

You know, we are really in a very dangerous world right now, and we’re going to have to readjust our thinking very, very rapidly. [Applause]

Tony Perkins (president of the Family Research Council): Governor, I want to thank you for arranging your schedule to be here to moderate this. And I just want you to know that we all appreciate what you’ve done for our country as well. [Applause] Mr. Trump, thank you for being here. I want to ask you a question that’s kind of at the intersection of faith and our military. As a veteran of the Marine Corps, I’m very concerned. This administration has implemented policies allowing open homosexuality in our military, unilaterally placed women in infantry and special operations units. And the administration is now, before they leave, urgently pushing transgenderism within the ranks of our military. Now in the wake of these policies, we’ve seen sexual assaults in our military go through the roof. And we’ve seen religious liberty constantly attacked. Even this week, I believe the video has gone viral of a retirement ceremony in which a 33-year veteran was physically carried out because he mentioned God at a retirement ceremony.

This is my question for you, Mr. Trump. What policies, if any, of the Obama administration will you reverse? And what steps will you take to restore our military and the rights of our men and women in uniform to practice their religious freedom?

Trump: Good question, Tony. First of all, I did read the story about rape in the military. It’s inconceivable what’s going on. It’s a tremendous problem. And it’s another problem that people aren’t talking about. Very rarely do you hear about it or talk about it. Tony can bring it up, but very few people are open about it. It’s big stuff. Our military is so important from any standpoint. You know when you talk about the most important jobs of a president, you always have to go with defense, defense, right? I mean, without the defense. … And we need a strong military. Our military has been totally depleted. I saw the other day — you probably saw on a couple of the networks — where they were talking about our fighter planes where they’re old, they’re 18 to 20 years old. We’re using these planes to fight. These are the planes we’re using. And they have no parts because they’re so old — we don’t make the parts anymore. So they’re going into plane graveyards. And they’re going into museums, where the planes are shown in museums. And yet we still have them fighting and using. They’re obsolete. They’re old. And they’re taking parts — they’re pirating parts — off of these planes.

And our military is so badly depleted. And we fight all over the place. We fight in little pockets here, here. We don’t win anything. We don’t fight to win. Nobody knows why, but we’re doing it. We used to fight to win. We don’t fight to win. And you know it’s interesting, because prior to Vietnam, we never lost. Now we never win. You thought we won in Iraq? We didn’t win in Iraq. We handed Iraq to Iran. We have given Iraq — with among the largest oil reserves in the world — we have given it to Iran through sheer stupidity. That’s the better deal. Forget about the Iran deal that I talk about for the $150 billion. And, by the way, you know about this, $150 billion and we don’t get our prisoners back until the deal is done. We should have never negotiated until we got those prisoners back. And we should have doubled up the sanctions. We double up the sanctions, and you say, “You let them go, and then we’ll start negotiating.” And then we should have never given them the $150 [billion]. We should have just said, “We don’t have it. We don’t have it.”

[Audio a bit garbled here over laughter and coughs. Trump shifts topics to the federal budget, which allows Syrian refugees in, he says.]

Trump continues: “We have no idea who they are, where they are. And they’re put all over the country. Even the governors — I had a meeting with seven governors — even the governors of this country, they don’t know where these people are going. They don’t know where they’re being placed. It’s crazy. This could be the greatest Trojan horse. This could be the real-deal Trojan horse, OK fellas? We have no idea who these people are. And the governors don’t even know who’s being put into their communities. They’re just putting them in. It’s a very, very serious problem. Well, the omnibus budget pays for that. It pays for illegals coming into the country. It pays for Obamacare. I mean, how we’re doing this is just incredible. You ever see your Congress — people and other people, and senators — they go down and they fight, they fight. And then they go down to Washington. They’re “going to clean things up.” And then they get down there and they vote for Obamacare. And they get down there, and they vote for these budgets that are so horrendous.

It’s almost like … I tell this story — you know, kiddingly, but probably not kiddingly — where somebody, man or wife, they go down there [to Washington.] And they end up in the beautiful halls of Congress. And they say, “Darling, we’ve arrived. Look at the ceilings. Look at these angels. Look at this beautiful — look at these columns.” And all of a sudden, they go from this hard-line person that’s going to fight for us, to an automatic vote. Something happens. Maybe it’s the water, but something happens. And we’re going to change that. And, Tony, just to finish. So we have a very depleted military. We are going to bring our military back to full strength. We are going to — it’s the cheapest thing we can do, by the way. It’s the cheapest thing we can do. And it’s jobs! And it’s also jobs.

You know we make modern equipment. We sell modern equipment to other countries, and yet we have old stuff. We give modern equipment to our allies in the Middle East, and we don’t even know who our allies are. They have better Humvees. You know the stories: 2,300 Humvees [captured by ISIS.] We have many, many warriors that have lost their legs and arms and everything else. They’ve been in a truck and it didn’t have the armor. And they drive down a road and they get wiped out. And we give them to our allies. And then a bullet is shot in the air, and our allies run, and the enemy take over the equipment: 2,300 [Humvees captured by ISIS.] A friend of mine has a son who has spent a lot of time in Iraq and the environment. And I said, “What do you think?” He says, “It’s so sad because the enemy has better equipment than we do. And it’s all our equipment.” It’s our equipment! They take it after our people [flee.] They’re not our people. We don’t know who they are. We give it to the rebels; the rebels turn out to be worse than the ones that we’re trying to get out of [there].

So we have people that don’t know what they’re doing. But we have to build up our military, etc. And we are going to let the generals make a real decision. Because you have political generals in there. You have generals making decisions that they don’t believe in. … And I want the generals without politics. We want the generals. We have to have the greatest fighting force in the world, whatever that may be. And we have to have the generals make these decisions, and the leaders — the military leaders — make these decisions without influencing, without people calling, saying, “Do this or do that.” Because there are difficulties. But I just want the greatest fighting force in the world. And I never want to have to use it. I want to have it so that when people look at us, they say, “OK, we’re not going to play games.” OK? That’s the way I feel. Thank you.

Kelly Shackelford (president and CEO of First Liberty Institute law firm): I lead a group called First Liberty Institute. It’s the largest legal organization in the country that all we do is religious freedom. And so, the Coach Kennedy case — I just want to start out by saying thank you. Not only for what you said today, but for what you said on Twitter when that first became public. [The tweet: “Support Coach Kennedy and his right, together with his young players, to pray on the football field. Liberty Institute just suspended him!”]

It was clear that your natural instinct was to stand with the coach. So when I hear things like what Tony mentioned, with the 33-year veteran that we had to launch that lawsuit this week, it just means a lot when you do what you did in speaking out, so thank you.

Trump: I got in trouble for that. Honestly, the world came down on me. That was another one. And why should it? Why should it? We should have the power. We should have the power. [Applause]

Shackelford: This is a two-part question on religious liberty. The first is what you mentioned, that the next president is going to appoint at least three Supreme Court justices, probably hundreds of federal judges — these are life appointments. What process or what people are you going to rely on so you can assure people here to know you’re gonna get really good justices? And secondly, probably the key issue right now in religious liberty is the attempt to use gay rights to trump religious freedom. So a baker, like the couple that’s a Christian baker in Oregon, because they couldn’t do a gay wedding cake, they’ve been prosecuted by the state, they’re bankrupt, they’ve been fined $135,000 and told by the judge that they need to be, quote, rehabilitated. Have you thought through yet, or do you know yet, where you’re going to stand? I know you may need time on some of these issues. But I know this is something that would be very important to the people in this room.

Trump: So, on the judges: The Federalist Society is the gold standard on judges, are you happy with that? I think, right? Also Heritage [Foundation], Jim is fantastic. Jim DeMint and the Heritage [Foundation] is — I think they’re doing a great job. And they’ve done it also. Plus, we’re going to probably put four or five additional [judges on the list] as I’ve said before. And we’re going do that. We’re going to do that very quickly. And frankly, the decision that you’re looking at is ultimately going to be a court decision. And the people that go on the court over the next period of time are going to have a lot to do with that decision. Because right now, that decision does not look — and I know where you stand on it — and that decision is not looking very good for you. And by the way, if you are pro-life, it’s not going to be very good for pro-life right now. And if Hillary gets in, honestly, Mike, if she picks two more judges — not three, four or five — pro-life is a whole different story.

Your question is a whole different story. Because ultimately, the court is going to decide that question. They’re going to decide that answer. And I will say this and I’ve said before: I’m putting pro-life judges on. … The justices that I’ve put on, and you can look at their names and we have them posted, but the justices, I have gotten tremendous, rave views from the people that we’ve picked. Eleven, we’ve picked 11 so far. And we’ll pick a few more and they’ll be very similar. I’ve gotten tremendous reviews. The alternative is the opposite. There won’t be any pro-life judges put on there. They will be all pro-choice. They will be all, 100 percent.

Huckabee: Just to add, I think the Second Amendment is gonna be gone. These are issues that should be decided by the American people through the ballot box, not by a handful of rogue justices appointed for life. [Applause] And I think we just want to know you’re going to appoint people who will respect the constitutional separation of powers and not allow people to be appointed who would go and legislate from the judicial branch. And I think you can give us some comfort that you’re going to appoint people who respect the Constitution rather than completely ignore it.

Trump: Total respect for the Constitution. I’m so glad you mentioned the Second Amendment. Because the Second Amendment, like Christianity, the Second Amendment is under siege. And you have right now a tied court. And frankly, if one judge gets on, that’s the end of the Second Amendment certainly as you know it. And I say, and I say it in all seriousness: Hillary Clinton is going to abolish the Second Amendment if she becomes president. She will abolish, so you’re not going to have protection. … You’re not going to have protection. You’re not going to be able to protect yourself. Some of the ideas they have are unbelievable and not what our Founders wanted or had in mind. So the Second Amendment is totally under siege and we’re going to protect the Second Amendment.

You know the NRA endorsed me, it was the earliest endorsement that they’ve ever given. I have great respect for the NRA. And I think that’s an important thing. But when we get down to the Supreme Court, you’re talking about religious liberty, freedom. You’re talking about all of the things that you asked about. And your question’s great. But you know ultimately, it’s the courts that are going to decide. And if it’s my judges, you know how they’re going to decide. And if it’s her judges, you also know how they’re going to decide. This is such an important election. And I say to you folks, because you have such power, such influence. Unfortunately the government has weeded it away from you pretty strongly. But you’re going to get it back. Remember this: If you ever add up, the men and women here are the most important, powerful lobbyists. You’re more powerful. Because you have men and women, you probably have something like 75, 80 percent of the country believing. But you don’t use your power. You don’t use your power.

And I actually said, “How is it possible for Lyndon Johnson to get that through?” — you call it an amendment or whatever you want to call it, which took away this tremendous power. And honestly, people were asleep at the wheel. Something happened. We’re going to get it revoked. [Applause] And we’re going to be incredible for evangelicals, for Christianity and for other religions. You know, I talked about a temporary ban on Muslims until we find out what’s going on. And I was met with tremendous rebuke — and praise and OK, I was met with everything. Some people thought [it was] great, some people didn’t think so great. But if I said something about Christianity, nobody would — it would be a whole different ballgame. We can’t let that happen, folks. It’s different, all right?

You used to go to church, and you know, when I’d go there … It’s much different today. I know, as an example, the young people aren’t going as much.

But we have to bring that back. We have to bring those values back. We have to bring that spirit back. And in a way, it’s been taken way from you by the federal government and by these horrendous things that have been allowed in the past. But just remember this: You are the most powerful group in this country. But you have to realize that. You have to band together. You have to band together. If you don’t band together, you’re really not powerful. You have a powerful church. I see it. I see some of these incredible pastors and ministers and people that speak so brilliantly. And I see it. But they’re great within their audience but then outside they don’t have it. You have to band together as a group. And if you do that, you will bring it back like nothing has ever been brought back. [Applause]

Huckabee: After what you said about church and going to church, I have a feeling you’re going to have a thousand invitations to show up at church every Sunday. I know that you have stayed far longer than originally was agreed to. We very much appreciate and respect the fact that you didn’t just give us the time, you gave us way beyond what you were able to do. And I’m sure your staff is upset because we have extended your schedule.

Trump: Mike, there’s nothing more important than this group of people to me.

Huckabee: Well, I agree with you. [Applause] There’s 1,000 people representing millions of people across America who understand that this election is really not a hard lift. We have Hillary Clinton, and we have you. You want to make America great again. You bring disruptive leadership to this country that will challenge the institutions that have virtually ruined the America that many of us know, grew up in, appreciate and want to hand to our kids and grandkids. Hillary Clinton will continue the spiraling downfall of this country, morally, constitutionally, and even in her statecraft, which we cannot allow to happen.

And what I’ve sensed here is there are a lot of people who not only appreciate the extraordinary amount of time and attention that you’ve given to them, but more importantly it’s not to them, it’s to the people they represent, to their kids, to their grandkids, to the future of America. And as I said at the beginning, I don’t think anybody came here today expecting you to be able to answer a Bible quiz. That wasn’t the whole point. But what we heard today was a reminder why the people of this country gave you more votes in the primary than they have any other Republican candidate in the history of the process. God willing, you will look back in your first year as president of the United States and you will say that this event at the Marquis Marriott in New York was one of the seminal events — if not the seminal event and turning point — in taking you to the presidency. And on behalf of all these people I would like to say thank you and God bless you for your time today. [Applause]

I do believe — it’s what I said to Mr. Trump and I think you agree with me — this has truly been a seminal event in the process of electing our next president, but more importantly in getting America back on track where we can be proud of the America that we give to the next generation.

James Robison (founder of LIFE Outreach International): Let me just say that Mr. Trump met graciously with some of the leaders that you respect this morning, and they represented your heart, and not only your heart but the heart of God to this man. And I can tell you with no exaggeration, Donald Trump is greatly impressed with the Jesus he saw in those men and women there and in you. He likes what he sees. And with all my heart, I believe that his heart is open to receiving from the Jesus that we love and worship. With all my heart. Ben, I want to thank you and Candy, you’ve just been such a blessing. To others who stepped out ahead of time and said, ‘Don’t write him off.’ I believe he wants to hear God’s voice through you and I personally believe he wants to heed. And I think if we walk together, in supernatural unity with the Father and one another, I believe our nation is going to behold the glory of God in his church and I think we will experience the next Great Awakening. Let’s join together in prayer for that.

Father, I want to thank you for these who are standing out here, and I pray you would remove from any mind or heart any thought that we might be the smaller, more insignificant parts of your body, when I know for a fact it is highly likely the more significant kingdom impact are those who are here in this room. But even beyond them it may be like that beautiful lady we saw in the war room, praying for your power. God, it may be someone who prayed the pastor that’s here into this place. We believe there are people praying all over this nation and we believe around the world praying for this nation of ours that’s experienced the freedom that Christ came to give, that blesses everyone.

Father, please, not only help everyone praying with me in this room to understand their vital importance in your mind, but to go back and tell every member of their church family where they shepherd and where they lead of their great, indescribable value and importance in making a kingdom impact at this very dark moment in human history and the history of our nation. Jesus, I want to say, what I pray is in the heart of everyone here, we love you, Lord. We love you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. And we want to love our neighbor, including every distinctly diverse and sometimes even out-of-sync member of your body. We want to be an answer to your prayer, while we ask you to answer our prayers.

I’m asking you to help us together — and it can only be together — that we can be the shining city set on a hill that cannot be hid. I’m asking you to put it in the heart of every person in this room, and yes, on Donald Trump and his family. We want to be an answer to your prayer. We want to see your prayer in John 17 answered in our day, so that when you come back in glory you will be coming for a church already adorned in your glory, and this world will know in fact if they think they are rejecting Christ they will at least know what he looks like. They will know who they’re rejecting and who they’re accepting, because the transforming power of your life dwelling in us and the one you sent, just like you, to live in us, will be finally in control of the body you birthed. To you be the honor and glory forever and ever. And we’re asking you to let us witness and be a part of the next great spiritual awakening. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Correction: The start of the transcript initially identified the first speaker as Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The speaker is not identified in the audio.