Trump defends Christopher Columbus statues

Trump argued Tuesday that American history must be preserved, not torn down, as he waded into a controversy involving Christopher Columbus statues during a Heritage Foundation dinner.

President Donald Trump argued Tuesday that American history must be preserved, not torn down, as he waded into a controversy involving Christopher Columbus statues.

Trump was reflecting on the nation's heritage at a conservative dinner this evening in Washington.

'Now they are even trying to destroy statues of Christopher Columbus. What's next? Has to be stopped,' he said.

Trump used the speech before a red meat audience to touch on a variety of his favorite topics, including the American flag, the national anthem and the phrase 'Merry Christmas.'

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President Donald Trump argued Tuesday that American history must be preserved, not torn down, as he waded into a controversy involving Christopher Columbus statues

President Donald Trump argued Tuesday that American history must be preserved, not torn down, as he waded into a controversy involving Christopher Columbus statues

He also promised health care reform and tax reform, an effort he pegged to his daughter Ivanka, a White House adviser.

Trump began his remarks with look back at the 'heartbreaking tragedies' in the U.S. over the past month, 'from the catastrophic storms, to the devastating wild fires, to the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas.'

'We're reminded that no destructive force on earth is stronger than the courage character and love of the American people,' Trump said. 'This is a time of great challenge for the world but also a time of great opportunity.'

The United States is faced with a chance to tap into the creative power of its people, he said.

'But to achieve these great things, we must hold fast to the values that define who we are as a people and as a nation. Everyone here tonight is united by these same enduring beliefs.

'We believe that the Constitution is the greatest political document in human history and that judges should interpret the Constitution as written,' he said to loud applause and cheering.

Trump brought up the statues of Christopher Columbus and said: 'We believe that we should preserve our history, not tear it down.'

'We believe that America is a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws, and we support the incredible men and women of law enforcement,' he continued. 

'We believe that our great American flag should be treated with reverence and respect and that young Americans should be taught to love our country, honor our anthem and proudly recite the pledge of allegiance.'

Trump also told members of the Heritage's president's club Tuesday evening that he would eventually get rid of the 'disaster known as Obamacare' altogether, although he is backing a short-term, bipartisan bill to stabilize the marketplace.

'I continue to believe that Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies,' Trump stated.

Claiming once again that he expected Republican lawmakers to send a repeal and replace bill to his desk on Jan. 20, his first day in office, Trump said it was 'not as easy as we thought.'

'But we're gonna get it done, you watch,' he asserted.

Moving on to tax reform, Trump said he was working to 'substantially increase the child tax credit for working families, which so many people want, including my daughter Ivanka.'

'And yes, we are ending the horrible and very unfair estate tax, also known as the death tax,' he said to more cheering.  

He told the audience minutes later that if he's able to win over the Republicans he needs in the U.S. Senate, 'We will get that largest tax cut in the history of our country, and you will see things happen like have never happened before.'

'So let's give our country the best Christmas present of all - massive tax relief.'

'And speaking of Christmas,' Trump said, pausing as an audience member affirmatively shouted, 'Yes!' 

Trump played along and said, 'Yes? You want to hear it?'

'I'll give you a bigger Christmas present. Your'e going to be saying "Merry Christmas" again,' he said to applause.

Last year, Trump made a point of bringing up the so-called war on Christmas in his campaign speeches. He randomly brought the subject up again last week at a conservative conference. 

He kept it up on Tuesday evening at the Heritage dinner, saying he wants stores to say, 'Merry Christmas everybody.'

'Happy New Year, Happy Holidays, but I want Merry Christmas,' he said.