Trump Mocks Schwarzenegger, Prays for 'Apprentice' Ratings at Breakfast with Religious Leaders

The National Prayer Breakfast dates back to the tenure of Dwight Eisenhower.

ByABC News
February 2, 2017, 10:06 AM

— -- President Trump jokingly offered up a prayer for Arnold Schwarzenegger as he addressed attendees at this morning's National Prayer Breakfast.

"They hired a big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place, and we know how that turned out," Trump said at the top of his remarks.

He continued, "The ratings went right down the tubes. It's been a total disaster. And Mark [Burnett] will never, ever bet against Trump again, and I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings."

Schwarzenegger, a former governor of California who earned fame for his action movie roles, was hired to replace Trump as host of "The Celebrity Apprentice." The president is listed as executive producer of the show.

Daniel Ketchell, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger, fired back at Trump this morning.

"Arnold is praying that President Trump can start improving his own approval ratings, which were the worst in history for an incoming president, by taking his job seriously and working inclusively," Ketchell told ABC News.

Schwarzenegger assailed Trump in a video posted to his social media accounts.

"Hey, Donald, I have a great idea. Why don't we switch jobs? You take over TV, because you're such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job. Then people can finally sleep comfortably again," he says in the video.

The National Prayer Breakfast, which brings together politicians and members of the business and religious communities, began in 1953, is organized by the Fellowship Foundation and is hosted by a committee of members of Congress.

Over 3,000 people attend the breakfast annually, according to the Fellowship Foundation.

In 2013, a then relatively unknown Dr. Ben Carson — currently awaiting Senate confirmation as secretary of housing and urban development — delivered a scathing critique of President Barack Obama's attempts at health care reform at the gathering. The appearance vaulted Carson to celebrity in conservative circles, eventually leading to his unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

The breakfast is not without controversy, with some critics decrying the event's religious theme and fusion of church and state.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization promoting government secularity, released a statement in opposition to the function Wednesday that read, "Instead of serving 'Americans of all backgrounds,' [the breakfast] further enshrines the place of worship and religion in our political setup, acting contrary to our godless Constitution."

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