Nation

Trump’s breakfast: Prayers for Schwarzenegger, swears for chaplain

President Donald J. Trump asked attendees of the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday to pray for former California governor and current “Apprentice” host Arnold Schwarzenegger over the show’s ratings.

Trump discussed his time on the show, and said the program had not been as successful as it was when he was the host, calling it a “total disaster.”

“And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings,” he said with a laugh to the gathering of faith leaders.

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Schwarzenegger quickly responded over Twitter, suggesting the two men switch jobs.

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“You take over TV, since you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job. Then people can finally sleep comfortably again,” Schwarzenegger said in a video posted to his Twitter account.

At the prayer breakfast, Trump also praised Senate Chaplain Barry Black who spoke before him.

“Is that an appointed position?” he said to Black. “I don’t even know if you’re a Democrat or if you’re a Republican. But I’m appointing you for another year, the hell with it,” he said, waving his hand dismissively and smiling. “And it think it’s not even my appointment, it’s the Senate’s appointment, but we’ll talk to them. Your son is here. Your job is very, very secure, OK.”

He also praised “Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett, who introduced him, as a “special, special friend” and praised Burnett’s wife, Roma Downey, who played an angel on the TV show, “Touched by an Angel.”

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He said Downey had the “voice of an angel” and said, “Everything is so beautiful about Roma, including her husband.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in an afternoon briefing that Trump meant the remarks “as a lighthearted moment. ... If you look at the totality of his remarks, they were actually beautiful.”

The annual event, which is in its 64th year, was held in Washington. With faith leaders eager to hear from him, Trump reiterated his support for the repeal of the so-called Johnson amendment, which bars churches and other tax-exempt organizations from supporting political candidates. He pledged during his campaign that if elected president, he’d repeal it.

Trump thanked Americans for their prayers as he begins his administration, saying they've been a ‘‘constant source of strength.’’

What is the Johnson amendment?

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.