US President Donald Trump speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast at a hotel in Washington, DC on February 8, 2018.
MANDEL NGAN, AFP/GETTY IMAGES
DAVID JACKSON | USA TODAY
Updated 34 minutes ago
WASHINGTON – President Trump stuck to the script during the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, honoring the power of faith and politics for leaders facing national and internal challenges.
"America is a nation of believers and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer," Trump told delegates at the annual breakfast that has welcomed American presidents since 1953.
The event reminds people that "faith is central to Americas life and liberty," Trump said. "Our rights are not given to us by man ... Our rights come from our Creator."
Trump, who made evangelicals and religious conservatives major parts of his political coalition, discussed the role of faith as political leaders grapple with problems that range from the opioid epidemic to the rogue regime of North Korea.
Trump took some heat during his first prayer breakfast last year when he mocked Arnold Schwarzenegger over his struggles as host of The Apprentice, the president's old television game show. ("The ratings went right down the tubes," Trump riffed then, adding that "I want to just pray for Arnold ... for those ratings.")
More: Trump bucks breakfast tradition by calling for prayers for Schwarzenegger
More: First year of Trump-Pence brings bountiful blessings, religious conservatives say
Trump also referred to The Apprentice in an early morning tweet preceding this year's prayer breakfast appearance.
"Great religious and political leaders, and many friends, including T.V. producer Mark Burnett of our wonderful 14 season Apprentice triumph, will be there," Trump tweeted.
As usual, an international crowd assembled for the breakfast, including up to 60 Russians. A special counsel and congressional committees are investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election via hacked emails and fake news.
Trump also worked in some foreign policy during the breakfast, meeting on the sidelines with the president of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales.
While Trump has criticized illegal immigration from Guatemala and other Central American countries, Guatemala did back the United States on a recent foreign policy dispute: Like the U.S., Guatemala announced it was moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Originally Published 9:16 a.m. EST Feb. 8, 2018