2022 midterms: What Trump said about Pence during Faith and Freedom event

As the first notes of “I’m Proud to be an American” sounded, former President Donald Trump took the stage in Nashville, Tennessee, last week at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority conference. He stood by the American flag for the entirety of the song, looking out at the crowd with his trademark expression that falls somewhere between a smile and a smirk.

Once at the podium, Trump launched into a rambling speech that lasted over an hour and a half, touching on everything from the border to election fraud to “the radical left” and “crazy” Liz Cheney and the “human conveyor belt” Mike Pence. The former president articulated his ideas about American values and also discussed perceived threats to these values and the country. The greatest threats to the country, he argued, come from within — namely from Democrats and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).

“We know that religious freedom is the foundation of all freedom because we know that our rights and liberties come straight from the hand of our creator,” said Trump. “We believe that America is a sovereign nation with a sovereign people which means that we must have a strong, secure and sovereign border. If we don’t have a border, we don’t have free and fair elections — we don’t have a country. … We believe that America’s destiny depends on upholding the Judeo-Christian values and principles of our nation’s founding. And above all else we know this in America: we don’t worship government, we worship God.”

Accusing the “radical left” of making politics their religion and taking a sledgehammer to “everything we hold dear, every last tenet of American tradition,” Trump also assured the crowd of Republican victory in midterm elections.

“This November, we’re going to stand up to this left wing fascism. We’re going to take back our freedom. We’re going to take back our country in November,” he said.

For the conservative, religious crowd in attendance, Trump’s speech was par for the course. The former president has been a fixture at the event for years, although he missed it in 2021, when former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis both spoke. But with the 2024 presidential election already on the horizon, this year’s appearance took on added significance.

That Trump was the headliner this year while two of his biggest rivals for the presidential nomination were perhaps conspicuously absent was a coincidence, said Faith and Freedom Coalition executive director Timothy Head.

“We invited all three last year and we invited all three this year,” Head told Deseret News. “I don’t know all the reasons why it didn’t work for the Trump team last year.”

DeSantis isn’t doing a lot of events outside of Florida right now, Head added, and Pence had a scheduling conflict. 

Setting aside the question of Pence’s and DeSantis’ absences, Head said the event did indeed offer some hints as to the future of the Republican Party — and the conservative movement more broadly. Both the audience and the lineup was racially and ethnically diverse, a trend…

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