President Trump on why he attended March for Life rally: 'Religious liberty is under siege'

President Trump told "The Ingraham Angle" in an exclusive interview Friday that he decided to attend the March for Life rally because "religious liberty is under siege."

"If you look at everything that the folks here stand for that we’re surrounded by, that’s under siege," Trump told interviewer Raymond Arroyo.

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Trump became the first sitting president to address the annual Washington gathering of pro-life activists, appealing to the anti-abortion movement with a call to protect the sanctity of life while accusing Democrats of becoming more "radical" on the issue.

"When it comes to abortion, Democrats … have embraced the most radical and extreme positions taken and seen in this country for years and decades and you could even say for centuries," Trump told the rally crowd Friday, accusing many of supporting "taxpayer-funded abortion all the way up until the moment of birth."

Trump told Arroyo he thought his appearance at the rally "would be good" and that it "sets a good tone."

"The march was going to be successful, but we made it much more successful," he said.

Tens of thousands of people attended the rally on the National Mall, many holding signs with slogans like “MAKE UNBORN BABIES GREAT AGAIN!" and I VOTE PRO-LIFE FIRST." While activists have heaped praise on the president for his pro-life policies, his actions have sparked lawsuits and condemnation from groups like Planned Parenthood. On Friday, the White House threatened California with the potential loss of federal health care funding over the state's requirement that insurance plans cover abortions.

Just four years ago, a political committee supporting one of Trump's rivals for the 2016 Republican nomination unveiled an ad slamming his views on abortion, complete with footage from a 1999 interview in which he declared, “I am pro-choice in every respect."

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"When was the moment you went from pro-choice to pro-life?" Arroyo asked Trump. "Was there a moment?"

"There was a specific moment," Trump responded. " And it was quite a while ago, but it was something that's turned out to be even more, I think probably even more of a truth than I would have thought at the time.

"But it's just an honor to be here today," the president added. " ... I just felt it was a great time to do it. You really are -- you're bringing a lot of people together, and that's good."

Fox News' Tyler Olson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.