At Values Voter Summit, Trump calls his actions on health care "a very big step"

Last Updated Oct 13, 2017 12:15 PM EDT

President Trump on Friday became the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., a conservative group. It was his third address to the annual gathering, but his first as president. 

His remarks here were the first he's made since the White House announced late Thursday that his administration would end Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies to insurers that help lower-income Americans afford health insurance. 

"You saw what we did yesterday with respect to healthcare.  It's step by step by step.  And that was a very big step yesterday," the president boasted.  "And one by one it's going to come down, and we're going to have great healthcare in our country." 

He conceded, "We're taking a little different route than we had hoped, because getting Congress -- they forgot what their pledges were," a jab at lawmakers over their failure to repeal the ACA. "But you know what?  In the end, it's going to be just as effective, and maybe it will even be better."

Mr. Trump conceded that "we're taking a little different route," because Congress "forgot what their pledges were," a reference to the failure to repeal the ACA.

He also mentioned his coming announcement about his Iran strategy, referring to Iran as "a terrorist nation like few others" adding, about his announcement, "I think you're going to find it very interesting." 

Soon after his address to the summit, the president is expected to refuse to certify that Iran is complying with the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, CBS News' Margaret Brennan reports. He'll also announce sanctions on members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and say that the Iran nuclear deal is no longer in America's best interest, and the president will call on Congress and the secretary of State to fix the deal.

The Values Voter summit aims to mobilize religious conservatives around issues like traditional marriage, religious liberty, and opposition to abortion. Also addressing the group of several thousand Friday are House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore, and White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway. On Saturday, the group will hear from former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon. 

Trump's remarks at Values Voter Summit - updates below:


President Trump begins speaking at 10:22 a.m. He's welcomed by chants of "USA! USA!" from the crowd.

"I've been here before," he told the crowd -- this was his third appearance. "America is a nation of believers," the president tells them. We are a nation sustained by the power of prayer, Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump also mentioned that our hearts remain sad for victims of the horrific mass murder in Las Vegas. He also pointed out the heroism of bystanders and first responders.

"All of America is praying for the wounded and the grieving," he added. "We promise to never ever leave your side." We heal together, Mr. Trump said.

We cherish every life. We defend our Constitution. We protect religious liberty, the president says. He expressed support for law enforcement and every American who wears the uniform. And "we support our American flag," Mr. Trump declared, to loud cheers. 

"How times have changed, but you know, they're changing back again," the president said, though he did not specify what he was talking about.

"I made you a promise - one promise I made was that I'd come back., "and I don't even need your vote this year!" He acknowledged that he was the first sitting president to address the crowd.

He reminded the crowd he had followed through on one promise after another, and he claimed that he's substantially ahead of schedule. Mr. Trump noted the successful confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch this year. 

The president also mentioned the religious freedom memo issued by the Justice Department last week -- no religious group will never be targeted under his administration, he said. 

Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

"We're going to be there as Americans, and we love those people and what they've gone through," the president promised. He noted that the victims of the recent hurricanes had "suffered gravely." He said they're healing rapidly, though, and he praised the American people for responding with such generosity and bravery. The true heroism of our nation is found in the hearts and souls of our people, the president said. 

Tax plan

We hope Congress will pass massive tax cuts for the American people, the president said.  The plan will include, he said, expanding child tax credit and eliminating marriage penalty.

Health care

You saw what we did yesterday with health care, the president said, likely referring to the announcement that the administration would no longer pay subsidies to insurers. "That was a very big step," he said. One by one it's going to come down, and we're going to have good health care in our country. He conceded "we're taking a little different route, because Congress "forgot what their pledges were," a reference to the failure to repeal Obamacare. Maybe the new health care plan will "even be better," he said. 

For too long, government has tried to centralize power in the hands of a few...but we know that parents know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society, Mr. Trump declared.

Iran

He hinted at his coming announcement, calling Iran "a terrorist nation like few others" adding, about his announcement, "I think you're going to find it very interesting."

Yesterday things happened with Pakistan. But we're starting to have a real relationship with Pakistan. Pakistan and other countries are beginning to have respect for the U.S. again, the president said.

ISIS

The president said, "We have made great strides against ISIS, tremendous strides against ISIS...they never got hit like this before." 

"They've ruthlessly slaughtered innocent Christians, along with the vicious killing of innocent Muslims and other religious minorities," he continued. "We've made their lives very, very difficult. Believe me." Mr. Trump told the audience that his administration had done more against ISIS in nine months than the Obama administration did during its tenure.

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The president also talked about the bravery of some of the everyday citizens of first responders during recent tragedies, recalling his visit to Las Vegas where some of the survivors were surviving from horrific wounds. He talked about Brady Cook, a wounded policeman who had only been on the job for only two days when the shooting took place. Cook told the president, "It's not what I expected, but it's what I signed up for."