President Trump became the first sitting president to speak in person at the March for Life anti-abortion rights rally on the National Mall Friday, in an appeal for Christian conservative support as he fights for re-election.
“Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House,” Trump declared during his relatively short speech, touting himself as an ally for pro-life voters.
"We have taken decisive action to protect the religious liberty, so important, religious liberty has been under attack all over the world and, frankly, very strongly attacked in our nation," he said. "You see it better than anyone, but we are stopping it."
Trump focused primarily on his administration's anti-abortion rights policies, reminding the crowd of his steps to block pro-choice legislation from the "far left" and his promise to fight for free speech on university campuses.
"We are protecting pro-life student's right to free speech on college campuses. If universities want federal taxpayer dollars, then they must uphold your first amendment right to speak your mind," he said. "And if they don't, they pay at very big financial penalty, which they will not be willing to pay."
In the middle of a social media diatribe against the House Democrats' arguments during the ongoing Senate impeachment trial, he shared his speech from the rally. Though, he did not mention the trial while at the rally.
The president's historic speech comes amid rising levels of support for legal abortion in the United States. Sixty percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the highest support in 24 years according to a ABC News/Washington Post poll.
"This is a very special moment," he said before leaving the stage. "It's so great to represent you."
Trump has worked to highlight the major anti-abortion event each year he's been in office.
President Mike Pence became the first sitting vice president to speak at the march in 2017, with Trump becoming the first president to address the rally by video the following year.
"President Trump is the most pro-life President in the history of our country, and becoming the first President to speak at the March for Life is further evidence of that," Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, told ABC News in a statement.
Trump's decision to appear was part of a larger effort to reach out to evangelical Christians, a core section of his conservative base.
Trump's campaign kicked off the 2020 election year ramping up religious voter outreach, launching "Evangelicals for Trump" with a massive rally-like event at a Miami megachurch.
"We're standing up to the pro-abortion lobby like never before -- we will never shy away from the battle to protect innocent life," Trump said at the kickoff in January.
At rallies across the country, the president's reelection pitch often has included his record on abortion as president, using that stance as a cudgel against Democratic rivals.
But Trump's history on abortion is complicated. In a 1999 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," he said that he was "very pro-choice," but during his 2016 presidential run he said that he'd "evolved" on the issue when asked during an August 2015 Republican debate.
Since getting elected, Trump's record on the issue has matched his campaign rhetoric. He's worked to appoint anti-abortion judges, cut taxpayer funding for abortions and blocked funds for Planned Parenthood.
The announcement of the president's plan to attend the rally comes just days after Susan B. Anthony List pledged $52 million to help reelect Trump and other anti-abortion candidates.
In advance of the president’s remarks today, Trump’s campaign planned to roll out a new “Pro-Life Voices for Trump” coalition. His campaign also sold infant onesies that say “Baby Lives Matter.”
ABC News' Ben Gittleson and Jordyn Phelps contributed to this report.