- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 2, 2017

Injecting his freewheeling monologue style into the National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump joked with the bipartisan faithful Thursday about praying for the TV ratings of his successor on “The Apprentice” and uttered “the hell with it” while pondering a lifetime appointment for the dynamic Senate chaplain.

In his first appearance at the annual event in Washington, the president was introduced by Mark Burnett, who produced “The Apprentice” with Mr. Trump as the star of the reality show. But as the president likes to point out, the show’s ratings have dipped since Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced him as the host.

“We had tremendous success on ‘The Apprentice,’” Mr. Trump told the audience. “And when I ran for president, I had to leave the show. And they hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. And we know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings, OK?”

Mr. Trump was effusive in his praise for Senate Chaplain Barry Black, a retired Navy rear admiral, who gave an impassioned keynote address at the breakfast.

“I don’t know if you’re a Democrat or if you’re a Republican, but I’m appointing you for another year, the hell with it,” Mr. Trump told the chaplain. “And think it’s not even my appointment, it’s the Senate’s appointment, but we’ll talk to them. Your job is very, very secure.”

Turning serious, the president said America’s faithful have supported him on his travels around the nation with “five words that never fail to touch my heart — I am praying for you.”

“Your faith and your prayers have sustained me and inspired me through some very, very tough times,” Mr. Trump said. “America will thrive as long as we continue to have faith in each other and faith in God.”

Mr. Trump said the annual prayer breakfast, begun 64 years ago during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, “is a testament to the power of faith and is one of the greatest customs of our nation.”

“And I hope to be here seven more times,” he deadpanned.

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