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Trump meets with persecuted religious minorities at White House ahead of rally

President Trump met with persecuted religious minorities in the Oval Office before leaving to rally supporters in Greenville, North Carolina. 

Mr. Trump's meeting includes survivors of religious persecution from 17 countries, including Burma, New Zealand, Yemen, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Nigeria, Turkey, Vietnam, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran and Germany.

"So you see the world is a tough place and we're making strides," Mr. Trump said. 

The president's later rally, slated to begin at 7 p.m., comes as he continues to defend his tweet that progressive congresswomen of color should "go back" to their countries. 

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said the women — three of whom were born in the United States and all of whom are citizens — could go back to "wherever," when a reporter pressed him during a Cabinet meeting where they should go. 

President Trump speaks as he meets with survivors of religious persecution in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Washington. Alex Brandon / AP

"Go wherever they want, or they can stay. But they should love our country," the president insisted. "They shouldn't hate our country. You look at what they've said, I have clips right here — the most vile, horrible statements about our country, about Israel, about others. Uh, it's up to them. They can do what they want. They can leave they can stay but they should love our country and they should work for the good of our country."

The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee are beefing up their staff in North Carolina, a key state for Mr. Trump's reelection bid. 

"North Carolina was key to President Trump's victory in 2016 and will be vital again in 2020 for Republicans at all levels," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale and RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. "The people of North Carolina are feeling the benefits of the president's and Republican policies, and we are confident they will support Republicans and President Trump's reelection next year." 

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