Former U.S. President Donald Trump urged his religious supporters to vote during a speech to conservative Christian activists on Saturday.

Speaking at the Faith & Freedom Coalition's 'Road to Majority' policy conference in Washington, Trump touched only briefly on the sensitive topic of abortion, which is of significant importance to the group.

Trump reiterated his stance that abortion restrictions should be determined by voters on a state-by-state basis. This position contrasts with the view of most conservative Christians and highlights the sensitivity of the issue for Republicans. Trump has warned that taking too stringent a stance on abortion could lead to electoral defeat, pointing to the GOP's lackluster performance in the 2022 congressional midterm elections following the Supreme Court's Dobbs ruling, which removed most constitutional protections for abortion.

"We've gotten abortion out of the federal government and back to the states. The people will decide, and that's the way it should be," Trump said. He also echoed Ronald Reagan's belief in exceptions for the life of the mother, rape, and incest. "You have to go with your heart. You have to also remember you have to get elected," he added.

Trump's comments on abortion received a lukewarm response, with some attendees chanting "No dead babies!" However, the predominantly pro-Trump audience showed no signs of supporting another candidate as the November 5 general election rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden approaches.

Trump received enthusiastic applause for other proposals, such as eliminating the Department of Education, a popular measure among conservative Christians who accuse the federal government of undermining faith-based teaching methods. He repeatedly called on Christians to vote in November, prompting chants of "Vote!" from the crowd.

Trump claimed credit for appointing three conservative justices to the Supreme Court, which led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade two years ago, a significant victory for conservatives. Despite this, he has stated he would not support a federal ban on abortion, preferring to leave the issue to the states.

Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a key Trump ally, has said his group will continue to push for restrictions at both state and federal levels.

On to Philadelphia

Later on Saturday, Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally at Temple University in a historically Black area of Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold. Trump garnered only 5% of the vote in precincts near Temple's main campus in the previous election, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Trump's campaign has prioritized courting Black and Hispanic voters, who constitute over half of Philadelphia's population. Some opinion polls suggest he may be gaining ground with these demographics. Although Trump is unlikely to win Philadelphia, narrowing the margin in the city and surrounding counties could bolster his chances in Pennsylvania, a crucial battleground state.

During his Philadelphia speech, Trump plans to criticize Biden's handling of inflation, the southern border, and crime, which are key components of his campaign for a second term.

William Rosenberg, a political science professor at Drexel University, believes Trump's main objective is to project his outreach to Black voters nationally, similar to a rally he held in the Bronx borough of New York City last month. "It's a play to get on national TV to say you are in Philadelphia, to make the case that this is a Black community," Rosenberg said. "Then perhaps you convince some swing voters that Donald Trump is not so bad."

In response, Democrats have set up posters, billboards, and kiosks in Philadelphia and on the Temple campus to promote Biden's policies, including his student debt forgiveness efforts, and to criticize Trump's record with the Black community. State lawmaker Malcolm Kenyatta, a Democrat, emphasized that Black voters remember Trump's promotion of the conspiracy theory questioning Barack Obama's birthplace and policies that harmed the Black working class.

"Donald Trump is in a Black place, but Donald Trump does not give a damn about Black people," Kenyatta said at a Biden campaign office event in Philadelphia, adding that Trump would "get the type of welcome he deserves" from the city. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, Wikimedia commons.