WASHINGTON — Donald Trump, who ignited an uproar by attacking a judge as biased on the basis of his Mexican heritage, said Friday in a speech to evangelical voters that he believes “no one should be judged by their race or their color.”
“Freedom of any kind means no one should be judged by their race or their color and the tone of his hue — should not be judged that way,” Trump said as he read from prepared remarks while speaking in Washington. “Right now, we have a very divided nation. We’re going to bring our nation together.”
Trump, who typically doesn’t address racial harmony in his public appearances, also emphasized in his speech at the Faith & Freedom Coalition “Road to Majority” Conference that as president he will work to “make America great again for all Americans.”
“We will work together to rebuild and restore and lift up everyone — not a certain group, everyone,” Trump said.
The remarks come amid a sustained barrage of criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike over his comments accusing an Indiana-born federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University of being inherently biased against him due to his Mexican heritage.
Facing criticism from powerful Republicans — including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who this week called Trump’s comments the “textbook definition of a racist comment” — Trump on Tuesday issued a statement saying his comments had been “misconstrued.”
Some Republicans have called on Trump to go further and apologize for his comments — calls Trump, never one to back down, has resisted.
Still, Trump’s remarks Friday point to a new understanding on Trump’s part of his need to adjust his rhetoric and walk back his comments about the judge, Gonzalo Curiel. On Monday, Trump showed signs that he was softening his position in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.
“I don’t care if the judge is Mexican or not,” Trump told O’Reilly. “All I want him to do is give me a fair shake.”
Speaking later Friday at a campaign event in Richmond, Virginia, Trump suggested an update to his famous campaign slogan.
“Make America great again — I’m adding, ‘for everyone,’ because it’s really going to be for everyone, it’s not going to be for a group of people.”
He added, “I am the least racist person, the least racist person that you’ve ever seen.”
Attempt to unify Republicans
Trump’s speech to the key group of socially conservative evangelical Christians comes as the presumptive GOP nominee is still working to rally the Republican Party around his candidacy.
But Trump on Friday worked in earnest to unify Republicans around his campaign, ticking down a list of cookie-cutter conservative policy positions, including pledging to protect religious liberty, appointing anti-abortion judges and abolishing Obamacare.
The billionaire also homed in on another point of unity among conservatives: bashing Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Speaking moments after Clinton wrapped up a speech in which she lambasted Trump’s positions on women’s issues, Trump reamed Clinton on her policy positions and raised controversies swirling around the Democrat.
Trump accused Clinton of using a private email server during her time as secretary of state in order to “hide her corrupt dealings.”
He claimed Clinton will “appoint radical judges” to the Supreme Court “who will legislate from the bench, overriding Congress, and I’ll tell you, the will of the people will mean nothing.” He said Clinton’s “Wall Street agenda will crush working families.” And he brought up news reports about a Clinton donor who received a top spot on a State Department intelligence board during the former secretary of state’s tenure.
“This position dealt with tactical nuclear weapons and he had Top Secret clearance,” Trump said. “And he knew nothing about it.”
Trump is slated to delve deeper into those controversies and to raise scandals that have plagued the Clintons since the ’90s in a speech Monday in New Hampshire.