President Trump blasted three of the four freshmen congressional Democrats known as "The Squad" in front of an audience of his evangelical supporters in Miami on Friday, accusing them of holding anti-Semitic views.
“These people hate Israel. They hate Jewish people,” Trump said at the launch of his "Evangelicals for Trump" group inside a megachurch. “I won’t name them. I won’t bring up the name of Omar, Tlaib, AOC. I won’t bring that name up. Won’t bring it up. I will not bring it up."
The three lawmakers have drawn the ire of conservatives for their criticism of Israel since taking office last January. Omar and Tlaib were among 17 members of Congress who voted against a resolution to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in July.
Omar was accused of anti-Semitism last year for her criticism of Israel and tweeting that a prominent lobbying group was paying members of Congress to support the country. The comment drew rebuke from Democrats as well as Republicans.
Trump later urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to block Omar and Tlaib from visiting Israel, resulting in an outcry from Democratic lawmakers. Israel later did block the lawmakers just before a planned visit.
Tlaib had requested to visit her grandmother in the Israeli-occupied West Bank but abruptly canceled her plans after she was given permission on humanitarian grounds.
Trump has gone after the Squad members in the past. In July, he said they should go back “crime-infested places from which they came” in an inflammatory tweet that was described by many as racist.
Trump spoke to more than 5,000 Christians, including a large group of Latinos, at El Rey Jesús church, just days after he was the subject of a scathing editorial in Christianity Today magazine that called for his removal from office. Thousands of the faithful lifted their hands and prayed over Trump as he began speaking and portrayed himself as a defender of faith.
The president made no mention of the editorial, which ran in a magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham. Campaign officials said the Miami event was in the works well before the editorial.
Mark Galli, the Christianity Today editor who wrote the editorial, retired Friday.
“We're defending religion itself. A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith cannot endure," said Trump, who also tried to paint his Democratic rivals for the 2020 election as threats to religious liberty. “We can't let one of our radical left friends come in here because everything we've done will be gone in short order.”
The kickoff of “Evangelicals for Trump” will be followed in the weeks ahead by the launches of “Catholics for Trump” and “Jewish Voices for Trump."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.